(See video at bottom of post.)
During the amazing event each September, hundreds of thousands of volunteers from countries all over the world spend a day picking up everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to lost fishing nets and major appliances. Because trash travels to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways, they don’t just work along ocean beaches; these dedicated folks slog through mud and sand along lakes, streams, and rivers, too, often working far inland.
It all began with one woman walking along the beach of South Padre Island, Texas. Appalled at the amount of trash she saw, Linda Maraniss immediately felt compelled to do something about it. As a former employee of Ocean Conservancy (then known as the Center for Environmental Education), she knew something about solutions.
Teaming up with like-minded people, she organized a beach cleanup. In only two hours, 2,800 Texans picked up 124 tons of trash along 122 miles of coastline. Since 1986, that effort has rippled out across the globe, and over a quarter century has grown into a much-loved and much valued experience that nearly half-a-million people look forward to each fall—with more joining each year.
Book Nook by the Bay
St. Petersburg, Florida
Whether we live along the shore or hundreds of miles inland, we are all intimately connected to the ocean. It drives and moderates our climate. It is the ultimate source of much of the water we drink and much of the air we breathe. It directly feeds millions of people. It also absorbs a great deal of the air and water pollution generated by a world population approaching seven billion people. But our ocean is sick, and our actions have made it so.
Every year, countless marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals are sickened, injured, or killed because of dangerous items we allow into the sea. They are poisoned, choked, or entangled in the trash we leave behind, from leaky paint cans to empty yogurt cups to cast-off fishing line. Trash also poses health threats to humans, contaminates marine environments, and clogs boat propellers.