SEGUIN TWP. - The fight against shoreline litter received a Parry Sound boost on Thursday.
Cleaning up the shoreline.
Carson Blake,8, and about 30 other students from Humphrey Public School spread out over Foley Matheson Beach to collect garbage as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup on Thursday. The students found everything from pop cans to a bikini at the beach.
Roland Cilliers/Beacon Star
More than 100 students from Humphrey Public School broke into teams of four at three different shorelines around the district to pick up garbage. Part of the nation-wide Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, the local events had students filling garbage bags with everything from cigarette butts to discarded bathing suits.
Dominique O'Brien, program co-ordinator for Seguin Township, said the cleanup is good for both wildlife and people.
"It's so important for our kids to be able to play on a clean beach," said O'Brien. "If you look around, especially here, there's cigarette butts that people just leave in the sand and then the kids are playing in the same sand. It's just not healthy for them."
Cleanups took place at Rosseau Waterfront Park, Maple Key Beach in Orrville and Foley Matheson Beach in Seguin Township. Despite the heavy rain, the students, between grades four and eight, were enthusiastic about the task and searched for garbage in ditches, shorelines and nearby forested areas. At the end, just about every garbage bag was filled with debris.
"We came down here earlier to have a look at where we should put the boundaries, and we thought our beaches are so clean. But look at how much their finding. You don't see the litter. It's buried and hidden in the ditches," O'Brien said.
Every piece of litter collected through the cleanup is recorded on datasheets provided by the Vancouver Aquarium. Afterwards, the information is combined and presented by the aquarium.
Thousands of people across the country are expected to take part in the cleanups at their local shorelines. During the 2011 cleanup, 143,737 kilograms of garbage were collected across the country including 351,238 discarded cigarettes.
Jill Dwyer, Manager of the cleanup at the Vancouver Aquarium, said the event goes a long way to removing health hazards for both people and animals.
"Shoreline litter can harm animals in a number of ways. If it gets into the water animals can ingest it, and falsely think they're full and they won’t get the nutrients they need - or they’ll just choke on it," said Dwyer.
"Some of the things that get in the water can potentially leak toxic chemicals which would be problematic not only for the animals that live there but the people who may depend on those waterways for drinking water."
The cleanup has been steadily growing since its first event in 1994 which drew only a handful of volunteers. In 2011, more than 56,000 people registered for the cleanup.
Dwyer credits the programs growth to it's inclusiveness and the way it empower individuals to take action for their shoreline.
"It's a program that's open to everyone and anyone who wants to get involved. We have people out with their small children cleaning up all the way up to we had a site co-ordinator last year in his 80s. It's really inclusive of all kinds of people," Dwyer said.
For more information on the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, including a full list of 2011 cleanup statistics, visit www.shorelinecleanup.ca.