It’s the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to remove trash from local waterways, beaches, lakes and rivers.
Last Saturday, the Ocean Conservancy’s 32nd International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) boasted hundreds of DC volunteers converging on Kingman Island — armed with gloves and trash bags — to recover thousands of pounds of trash from along the Anacostia. This gallant group was just a fraction of the more than 12 million volunteers who have removed more than 220 million pounds of trash since the first ICC more than three decades ago.
“Right now, all around the country and all around the world, hundreds of thousands of people are doing exactly what you are doing: they’re at their local beach, or river, or park; they are with family, or friends—or maybe they are making new friends; and they are rolling up their sleeves and taking action to keep the ocean clean,” said Ocean Conservancy CEO Janis Searles Jones opening the day with enthusiasm and purpose. “Make no mistake: every little piece of trash we collect and log here today is one less item threatening beloved ocean wildlife and communities.”
The Kingman Island event, supported by Patagonia’s Washington, DC store and held in partnership with the Living Classrooms Foundation, which manages Kingman Island, featured free breakfast and lunch, live music, lawn games, and giveaways, as well as a contest for “weirdest find.” Among those “Weird Finds” this year were: a Polaroid camera, an Incredible Hulk doll, Christmas lights, and a toy hamburger.
2017 Miss Earth United States Air Ashley Wade, Elite Miss Mid-Atlantic Earth Tracey Hirsch and Ms. Earth Ireland Rose Buckley, who participated in their capacity as Miss Earth pageant titleholders, showed their strength by hauling in a rusted, 15-foot iron pipe, among other odd items.
In addition to removing thousands of pounds of trash from along the Anacostia River, volunteers contributed to the world’s largest database on marine debris by logging each trash item in Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell mobile app. Scientists, researchers, industry leaders and policymakers rely on Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index to inform policy and determine solutions to the growing marine debris crisis.
“We are thrilled that so many volunteers came out to our flagship cleanup event,” said Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® Program. “Trash in our ocean is a global problem but tackling it starts locally. Everyone can make a difference for trash free seas.”
Photos credit: Ocean Conservancy/Joy Asico