International Coastal Cleanup Day: September 16, 2023, Unites the World for Cleaner Shores
Mark your calendars for September 16, 2023, as it has been designated as International Coastal Cleanup Day, a global initiative aimed at revitalizing the beauty and purity of our natural coastal landscapes. This day serves as a vital reminder of the pressing need to address the escalating pollution affecting our world’s beaches and oceans. In an era marked by capitalism and population growth, responsible stewardship of our environment becomes paramount, particularly when considering that over 70% of our planet is covered by the seas.
The cyclical nature of water means that the pollutants we introduce into our oceans ultimately return to us. A stark illustration of this problem is the presence of approximately 46,000 pieces of floating plastic waste for every nautical mile of water. Additionally, the persistence of plastic waste in the form of tiny particles has already begun to contaminate our food and water sources, threatening our delicate ecosystem with far-reaching consequences.
The Roots of International Coastal Cleanup Day:
More than three decades ago, the seeds of International Coastal Cleanup Day were sown. Visionaries Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara, associated with the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit organization focused on advocating for environmental regulations, embarked on a mission to combat marine plastic pollution. The year 1986 saw the inception of Maraniss’ dedication to ocean cleanup, which was further fueled by O’Hara’s comprehensive research on marine plastic contamination, scheduled for release the following year. Their collaboration and determination led to the birth of the idea to dedicate a day to raising awareness about the escalating pollution crisis in our seas. Rallying support from activists and environmental groups, they orchestrated the first official cleanup. The concept was simple yet powerful: individuals would gather at local beaches armed with garbage bags to collect trash, thereby preventing wind and water from carrying it back into the ocean.
Goals Beyond Cleanup:
International Coastal Cleanup Day extends beyond its beach cleanup activities. An essential aspect of the initiative involves documenting and analyzing the collected debris. This documentation encompasses studying the composition of the trash, identifying potential sources, evaluating decomposition rates, and assessing the impacts on water quality and marine life. Once the data is compiled, governments are informed, triggering national and international advocacy efforts to curb further environmental harm.
A Timeline of International Coastal Cleanup:
- Ocean Conservancy Established: A nonprofit, Ocean Conservancy, emerges to safeguard American beaches against pollution.
- Inaugural Cleanup Day: Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara, backed by numerous organizations and volunteers, launch the first International Coastal Cleanup Day.
- Removing a Quarter Billion Pounds of Trash: A million volunteers across the globe remove over 23 million pounds of debris from coastlines and beaches.
- The Decade of the Ocean: UNESCO declares the 2020s as the official Ocean Decade, raising awareness about diverse ways to contribute to ocean cleanup.
Participate and Make a Difference:
Engage in the movement by volunteering in cleanup efforts:
- Join a Cleanup Event: Take action by participating in local beach cleanup activities as a volunteer.
- Address Littering: Uphold the principles of cleanliness by discouraging littering and promoting responsible waste disposal.
- Reduce Plastic Use: Embrace eco-friendly alternatives to reduce plastic consumption and its adverse effects on the environment.
Fascinating Ocean Facts:
- Dominance of Aquatic Life: An astonishing 94% of life on Earth depends on water for survival.
- Unexplored Ocean Realms: Over 95% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored, leaving vast mysteries beneath the waves.
- Ocean-Generated Oxygen: Approximately 70% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by our oceans.
- Ocean Canyons’ Grandeur: Ocean canyons, such as the Zhemchug Canyon, often dwarf their land-based counterparts, offering incredible depths and heights.
- Coral’s Natural Sunblock: Coral reefs have evolved to produce their own sunblock, showcasing the remarkable adaptability of marine life.
Why International Coastal Cleanup Day Holds Significance:
- Promoting Hygiene: Practicing cleanliness is fundamental for a healthy life, and International Coastal Cleanup Day reinforces this essential principle.
- Celebrating Nature’s Beauty: This day celebrates the splendor of beaches and coastlines while emphasizing the importance of preserving them.
- Encouraging Responsible Living: The initiative serves as a reminder that every action has consequences, urging us to make mindful choices for a brighter tomorrow.