|2014 Art Contest Winner: Jessia D., Grade 4, New York|
NOAA Marine Debris Program
Make Every Day a Coastal Cleanup Day
Every year in September, communities around the world band together to pick up trash. They're not just picking up trash for the sake of picking up trash. They're picking up trash to keep our oceans clean and safe for marine animals. And, they're cleaning up the environment for a better future for all humanity.
For the past 29 years, the Ocean Conservancy has hosted the International Coastal Cleanup. And what a success it is. In 2013, over 648,000 volunteers in 92 countries collected over 12 million pounds of garbage by walking 12,459 miles of shorelines and searching 455 miles of water. The numbers aren't in for 2014 just yet.
What kind of garbage did they find?
At the top of the list are cigarette butts, food wrappers from potato chips and candy bars, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and straws.
Stuff that people use every day. Items that would be so easy to toss in a waste receptacle or in a recycle bin. Things that could be eliminated from our environment.
I went on a search for ways to reduce and reuse some of the common garbage items found floating in our oceans and littering our coastlines. Junk food wrappers, plastic bottles, and bottle caps can be the inspiration for a craft project. And, disposable items are easily swapped out with sustainable and reusable goods.
Need some ideas?
Halloween is almost here and the perfect opportunity to rummage through the recycle bin for some scary decorations. Make a Mad Hatter Mini Top Hat with an old plastic cup and a damaged CD.
Plastic straws are so uncool. If you want to be the coolest kid on the block, get a set of Plastic Free Glass Drinking Straws for you and your friends.
Bottled water may be one of the biggest plastic garbage producers that our oceans see. Instead of buying bottled water, bottle your own and carry a Reusable Water Bottle.
Confused about recycling?
The first step to keeping waste out of our oceans is to practice recycling the right way. Every community has different recycling programs, but there are some basic recycling rules that everyone follows. Print out this Recycling Decoder from the Ocean Conservancy. Post it on your refrigerator. Fold it up and keep it in your wallet or purse. Keep it handy for when you need it.
Want to get involved?
Start by Learning the Basics of Marine Debris. The Marine Debris program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a wealth of educational resources. You'll find information on the types of waste found in our oceans, where it comes from, its impact on wildlife, how it affects the world economy, and solutions to this worldwide problem.
Then, organize a cleanup day in your neighborhood. The Ocean Conservancy has a detailed Do-It-Yourself Cleanup Tool Kit that makes it easy to get started. You'll find everything you need to recruit volunteers, provide for their safety during the cleanup, record the type of trash collected, submit your findings to the Ocean Conservancy, and share your good work with the world.
I hope you'll join us in keeping our world Clean and Beautiful.