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RESULTS From the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup

Source: The TerraMar Project - October 6, 2017 in Featured, TMP

RESULTS From the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup
Photo: Maksym Kozlenko/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In September, people around the world joined together for a common cause: to clean our coastlines. And not only did they remove thousands of pounds of trash from the ocean, but more importantly they sent a message:

We need to stop the plastics, garbage, and waste at its source.

Beach cleanups are great, but they are only necessary because of the decisions we make everyday.

The TerraMar Project partnered with:

  • Green Teen Team in Europe
  • Nature’s Valley Trust in South Africa
  • The Maldives Whale Shark Research Program in the Maldives
  • Bella’s Challenge in Australia and 
  • Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program in New York

to send a global message about the issue of marine debris in our world’s oceans, and to compare the kinds of trash littering our very different coastlines.

What we found was both good and bad.

The Good.

Across each of the 5 sites, plastic grocery bags weren’t a significant threat. This is a great sign because in many places around the world, campaigns have been focused on fighting plastic pollution at grocery stores.

The implementation of plastic bag taxes has become widespread, and some areas are taking action to ban the bags all together.

The Bad and the Ugly.

Across many of the beach clean sites we witnessed a similar trend.

Small plastic items were littered all over. We found bottle caps, food wrappers, or broken down plastic bits, and these smaller plastics made up the largest relative proportion of marine debris in our cleanups.

And if you thought plastic straws suck, then you’re really going to hate cigarette butts which were scattered throughout each cleanup location (except the Maldives).

What can we do to make it better next year.

First off, if you smoke cigarettes or know someone who does, please dispose of them in a garbage can. Cigarette butts are a major proportion of the debris found in beach cleanups around the world.

Buy a re-usable water bottle and make sure you use it! It’ll pay for itself very quickly, and you’ll actually end up saving money as opposed to paying for bottled water every day. Plastic bottles and beverage containers are being found in large quantities all over beaches and the caps from these bottles add to the large amounts of smaller debris mentioned.

Please, please, please don’t bring balloons to the beach. Find any other way to celebrate whatever occasion it is, but when you release a balloon and it floats away it isn’t disappearing into oblivion. It’s most likely going to end up washed up on the beach or in some unfortunate animal’s stomach.

Finally, we suggest that everyone try to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics. Items such as plastic straws, plastic q-tips, and plastic containers aren’t necessary in our everyday lives. By making a conscious effort to ween off of these convenience items, you can make a serious impact.

Every little bit makes a difference and your bit does really help.

The Data

 

Figure 1. Top 10 litter items collected during the International coastal clean-up day (16 September 2017) by The TerraMar Project. The proportional contributions (%) of each litter item were computed from the item’s relative abundance in relation to the rest of litter items collected.

 

Figure 2: Top 10 litter items collected by the Green Teen Team during the international coastal clean-up day (16th September 2017). The proportional contributions (%) of each litter item were computed from the item’s relative abundance in relation to the other nine items.

 

Figure 3: Top 10 litter items collected during the International coastal clean-up day (16 September 2017) by MWSRP group. The proportional contributions (%) of each litter item were computed from the item’s relative abundance in relation to the other nine items.

 

Figure 4: The top 10 litter collected during the Kurland Community clean-up as part of the International Coastal Clean-Up celebrated at the Crags area of South Africa. The proportional contributions (%) of each litter item were computed from the item’s relative abundance in relation to the rest of litter items collected.

 

Figure 5: The top 10 litter collected by Bella’s Challenge (Dalyellup Beach-Surf Life Saving Club) as part of the International Coastal Clean-Up celebrated in Western Australia. The proportional contributions (%) of each litter item were computed from the item’s relative abundance in relation to the rest of litter items collected.

 

To view the Creative Commons license for the featured image, click here.

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