Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup calls for volunteers to fight shoreline litter

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Imagine travelling across Canada three times end to end -- between Vancouver, B.C. to St. John's, N.L. That distance -- 21,775 kilometers -- is about the length of shorelines cleaned to date in this country as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited.

Celebrating 20 years this fall, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (or "Shoreline Cleanup"), a conservation initiative of Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, is calling on Canadians to sign up now at ShorelineCleanup.ca as site coordinators or participants for this fall's cleanup, taking place on Sept. 21 to 29. The Shoreline Cleanup is Canada's largest direct-action conservation initiative, mobilizing participants throughout the country to remove litter from its shorelines -- anywhere where land meets water.

"Throughout its 20-year history, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has enlisted half a million Canadians to collect approximately 1.2 million kilograms of shoreline litter -- the approximate weight of 259 school buses," says Jill Dwyer, program manager for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. "Although these figures represent great accomplishments, they also indicate that there is much more work left to do, and many more volunteers required to stem the tide of shoreline litter."

Shoreline litter is a serious environmental issue in Canada -- and worldwide. Its effects are far-reaching -- from entangling and choking wildlife, to being ingested by wild animals, to negatively impacting water quality and cleanliness. For example, during last year's cleanup effort, 45 animals were found entangled, including 22 fish, ten birds (including gulls, swans, and heron), and even a fox. Shoreline litter can also pose safety risks to humans, and cause disruptions or imbalances within the local ecosystem.

To address this issue head-on, the goal of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup this year is to enlist 64,000 site coordinators and volunteers to participate, an unprecedented goal for the program. Last year, Shoreline Cleanup collected 136,000-plus kilograms of shoreline litter, reflecting the high level of need for more help this year.

As with every year, site coordinators will be cataloguing which litter items will be collected in the highest numbers on Canada's shorelines. Last year, the biggest culprits were cigarettes and cigarette filters (nearly 417,000 items collected), food wrappers/containers (nearly 99,000 items collected), and plastic bags (nearly 70,000 items collected). These items landed the top spots on Shoreline Cleanup's 2012 "Dirty Dozen" list, along with caps/lids, beverage bottles/cans, food serving ware, straws/stirrers, paper bags, tobacco packaging and building materials.

"We are proud to present the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup for the third consecutive year," says Bob Chant, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communication, Loblaw Companies Limited. "Loblaw's participation is made possible through partial proceeds from our plastic shopping bag program. By supporting initiatives such as this, we hope to give Canadians, and our store colleagues, the opportunity to take direct, local action in cleaning up our environment."

Any community can participate in a shoreline cleanup in their own community from Sept. 21 to 29. Register today at ShorelineCleanup.ca or call 1-877-427-2422 to be part of the solution.

Organizations: Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Geographic location: Canada, Vancouver, B.C., St. John's

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