(Sept. 13, 2013) What do a Hula Hoop, car parts and a set of dentures have in common?
According to Coastal Cleanup volunteers, these are all items found in trash collected on Delaware and Maryland’s beaches and bays during the annual Coastal Cleanup.
The 2013 event began this month, with trash pick-ups slated for around 50 sites in Delaware and nine Maryland locations, including Assateague and Ocean City.
“It’s a community event. It’s an opportunity for people to get together,” said Matt Likovich of Delmarva Power, the event’s main sponsor.
Last year, approximately 2,100 volunteers collected around 18,000 pounds of trash, about half of which was recycled, Likovich said.
While that’s “a significant amount of waste removed from the bays and rivers,” it’s down from around 60,000 pounds of trash collected a decade ago, thanks to increased public awareness, he said.
“People are getting the message that it pays to be environmentally conscious,” Likovich said. That goes for personal pleasure as well as economic reasons in a resort town that relies on its beaches to draw tourists.
The Coastal Cleanup initiative began with Delaware’s Get the Drift and Bag It program 27 years ago. Four years later, it spread to other areas through new sponsor Delmarva Power.
“We initially focused on our ocean beaches,” Delaware Department of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Dave Small said. But eventually, those areas were saturated with volunteers, “so we started expanding.”
The cleanup draws around 2,000 volunteers in Delaware and more than 100 in Maryland annually, he said.
Some years, up to 300 volunteers have come to the Assateague cleanup, a favorite among veterans because off-road National Park Service vehicles carry them to remote sections of the beach.
“You never knew what we’re going to find,” Assateague Coastal Trust’s Matt Heim said. That includes parts of a Volkswagen Beetle that have turned up over the past few years.
New this year, Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips will lead a flotilla of volunteers with canoes and kayaks to pick up waste in the marshes around Old Ferry Landing. Participants must provide their own kayaks, canoes or paddle boards.
Registration for the Assateague National Seashore Coastal Cleanup starts at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 in the North Beach parking lot of the national park. Call Jim Rapp of the Assateague Coastal Trust at 443-614-0261 for information on the Assateague cleanup.
The Ocean City Coastal Cleanup starts at 10 a.m. the next Saturday, Sept. 28, at Town Hall on Third Street. Registration includes a commemorative T-shirt, bags, gloves and an assignment, although those with a preferred cleanup area can tell coordinators.
There might be prizes for the “most unique” trash collected, coordinator Gail Blazer said. Blazer is the environmental engineer for the Town of Ocean City.
After the cleanup, volunteers will meet at Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon on 28th Street to celebrate National Estuary Day, raising their glasses for a symbolic “Toast to the Coast.” All 28 U.S. estuary programs will participate in the toast.
Register for the Ocean City cleanup by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-213-2297, ext. 107. Or, show up at City Hall the day of the event.