In 2002, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/ Save the Sound removed three tons of trash from beaches and riverbanks. The same year, these teams became the official Connecticut coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup. Fast forward to 2019 when these organizations found both optimistic and discouraging results during their annual ocean clean-up efforts. First, every kind of plastic (except tiny plastics) is trending downwards in ocean pollution. However, very small and very large waste categories have increased. Next, fishing gear and tiny pieces of plastic have been pushed to the top of the list of wildlife threats. Finally, the most picked-up items between 2017 and 2019 were cigarette butts, tiny plastic, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps, tiny foam, and plastic beverage bottles.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday, June 24 at 7 p.m. Save the Sound, Future Frogmen, and Patagonia of Westport will host their first-ever collaborative East Coast Community Cleanup. These three companies all have common goals: to decrease pollution, get trash and plastic out of waterways, and to slow down climate change. The virtual clean-up hosted by Patagonia of Westport encourages participants to get outside and pick up trash around local waterways in either small groups or individually.
“This virtual cleanup is a first for us, and we’re incredibly grateful to Future Frogmen and Patagonia Westport for inviting us to join them in hosting it,” noted Anthony Allen, ecological communications specialist at Save the Sound. “It’s going to feel a bit different, but the format of gathering (albeit virtually) to receive guidance before heading off in small groups to pick up trash that will be tallied toward a final count, along with the encouragement to share photos of the experience on social media… that will be familiar for anyone who has done a cleanup with Save the Sound before!”
From June 25 through July 2, participants will have the opportunity to fill out a digital data set which will help these companies assess the volume of trash removed from the waterways. Participants can also post photos of their haul on Instagram or Facebook which may be re-posted and highlighted on the social media pages of Save the Sound, Future Frogmen, or Patagonia.
“This is a truly a great team to be working with. We look forward to welcoming folks from across the Long Island Sound region and well beyond into this unique virtual cleanup experience,” Allen added. “Picking up trash in our communities is not the answer to plastic pollution and other waste, but it is a necessary piece of cultivating stewardship and a sense of connection to the problem no matter where we live. The fact is, trash travels—so it’s up to all of us to stop it in its tracks!”
Those who are interested in joining the virtual event kickoff on June 24th can RSVP via the event page on Patagonia’s website. Long Island Soundkeeper Bill Lucey will speak about the importance of keeping trash out of our waterways during the 45-minute digital session. Cleanup instructions and time for questions will also be allotted into this call.