30th International Coastal Cleanup day on Sept. 17

Posted at 8:58 AM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 08:58:30-04

A cigarette butt or a food wrapper might not seem like much on its own, but it can be dramatic when it is all put together.

The International Coastal Cleanup is a one-day collection effort that has amounted to millions of pounds of collected trash.

On Sept. 17, the Ocean Conservancy heads up the largest single-day ocean clean-up in the world.

Trash in waterways and oceans have created a major pollution problem.  The issue not only adversely affects wildlife and environmental health, it can ultimately hurt local economies.

In 2015, more than 18 million pounds of trash was collected by volunteers around the world on the single day of participation. 

This year will mark the 30th year of the event, which encourages people around the world to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways. 

The effort is also to identify sources of debris and change behaviors that contribute to the problem.

The Ocean Conservancy tracks every piece of trash, which is individually counted.  More than 2 million cigarette butts and more than 1 million plastic bottles were picked up on the day last year.

The effort has also yielded some odd pieces of trash.  A toy drum set was discovered in Jamaica. 

A perfume bottle was picked up in Brazil and a voodoo doll was found in Puerto Rico.

According to a report by Ocean Conservancy, common items include fishing gear, plastic bags and single-use food utensils and containers. 

These items pose great threats to marine life, as they can entangle animals or be mistaken for food.

Beach and waterway cleanups are a year-round effort in South Florida. 

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center schedules a monthly clean-up effort and participates in the International Coastal Cleanup.

Canals in South Florida have also become a collection zone for trash and debris.  A recent canal cleanup by the group Sea Angels yielded needles, a plastic table, a big blue plastic container, a plastic gun and much more, according to Founder Robyn Halasz. 

A recent WPTV story pointed out the issue of trash in area canals.  

Find a location near you to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup here.