The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
by Alexandra, Blaise, Jenna, & Tanner — Westcot Elementary, West Vancouver, BC
On May 17, 2012, the grade 4/5 class and both of the grade 3 classes from Westcot Elementary School participated in The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. This event happens all over Canada from B.C. to Nova Scotia. We collect, sort, and classify debris along Ambleside Park, in West Vancouver. Each group received a black garbage bag for garbage; a blue garbage bag for recyclable items such as cans and bottles and every group received a sharps container for sharp items like glass and needles. We were split into small groups of 6 or 8 students, supervised by a teacher or parent volunteer. In each group there was a grade 4/5 leader who tallied the debris that was collected in his/her group. Later this information will be collected and sent to the International Coastal Conservancy. The goal of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is to remove the amount of litter on all waterways to create a healthy lifestyle for ocean and fresh water creatures.
Everyone walked downhill from our school to Ambleside beach and collected garbage along the way, even though this garbage wasn’t tallied. When we arrived at the park, we split into ten groups and were assigned to designated areas along the beach and park.
We began collecting and tallying garbage once we were at our designated area. We only collected for about 20 minutes. Some of the highlights of our cleanup were: food wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette butts, filters, bottle caps and lids. Some of our most unusual items were: socks, four baseballs and an ear plug! The most important total results of our tally of items collected are:
- Paper Bags (71)
- Balloons (5)
- Plastic Bags (88)
- Beverage bottles (plastic) two liters or less (13)
- Glass Beverage Bottles (39)
- Caps, Lids (91)
- Clothing, Shoes (5)
- Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons (41)
- Food Wrappers\Containers (181)
- Pull Tabs (13)
- 6-Pack Holders (12)
- Straw, Stirrers, (49)
Strangely, the beach and park were cleaner than we expected. We think this is happening for a number of reasons: people are being more respectful to the environment; people now understand the consequences of littering; and there are also many garbage cans on the beach. We also think people litter more in forested areas than in beaches because on the beach you are more open and it may be more embarrassing to be caught. Whereas in a forest you could easily put some garbage behind a tree and no one would notice. Or perhaps the wind carries most of the garbage into the ocean immediately whereas in the forest the trees block the garbage. Either way, people still litter and it was an important for us to help our community environment and maintain clean waterways.