International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 17 is a promise to bring cleanliness and purity to nature as a whole. The day was started as a way to raise awareness about the growing pollution on various beaches of the world. Population growth is the main factor that has led to severely high levels of pollution in the environment, particularly in the oceans that make up over 70% of our planet.
Water has a cyclical nature, which means that anything we are putting into our oceans and other water bodies will come back to us sooner or later. For every mile of ocean, there are at least 46,000 pieces of plastic debris floating within said distance.
Furthermore, as plastic does not decompose over a long period, and only disintegrates, minute plastic particles are already showing up in our food and water. If these trends continue, it won’t be long before we face disastrous outcomes for our environment.
History of International Coastal Cleanup Day
The International Coastal Cleanup Day came into existence more than 30 years ago. It was founded by Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara, both of whom worked at the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental agency that specializes in formulating resolutions and policies at federal and governmental levels.
In 1986, Maraniss was inspired by O’Hara’s work and dedication towards cleaning up the ocean. The latter’s paper, which was due to be published next year, focused on plastic pollution in the ocean. Maraniss discussed her interest with O’Hara about starting a day to bring attention to the oceans’ growing pollution problem.
They approached several environmental groups and activists with the idea, and in no time, the duo had enough support to start an official cleanup. The idea was simple: Go to a local beach with a garbage bag and start picking up trash in order to reduce the amount that would be swept into the ocean by water or wind.
Cleaning up the beaches wasn’t the only aim of the International Coastal Cleanup Day. Another important goal was to document and study the type of trash collected during the cleanup.
Documentation included studying the trash’s material, where it could have come from, how long it would take to disintegrate, and what impact it would have on the ocean and the species living in it.
Once everything is identified and documented thoroughly, the governments are informed about the findings. In order to prevent further damage, lobbying efforts are started at national and international levels. Industries also face policies that would stop them from either producing such items or dumping them into the oceans. Ever since its inception, the day has seen over 6 million cleanup volunteers in over 90 countries.