Coastal cleanup by the numbers
The 2019 Cedar Key version of the International Coastal Cleanup was a huge success! At least 168 volunteers removed 4,943 pounds of trash from local shorelines. That’s almost 2.5 tons of trash! While this is a great thing for Cedar Key, the fact that this large amount of debris existed on our shorelines is lamentable, indeed. In fact, in 2018 we reported record numbers that were less than half the totals shown this year.
The cleanup occurred on the morning of September 21, 2019. We had nice, cool weather that aided the mission of the day. Perhaps the cool weather had something to do with the high numbers this year, increasing the time volunteers could stand to stay out. Volunteers collected more than 19,000 individual pieces of trash that were contained in more than 110 trash bags. All told, almost 6 miles of shoreline were cleaned up by these wonderful and generous volunteers. Many volunteers were on foot cleaning the main island of Cedar Key, while others headed out on boats to clean the offshore keys surrounding the island.
Comparison to global trends
How do the items collected in Cedar Key compare to items collected globally? The Ocean Conservancy reports that all of the top 10 items collected during the 2017 and 2018 International Coastal Cleanups were plastic. In both 2018 and 2019, just 7 out of the top 10 items in Cedar Key’s cleanup were plastic. However, four of the top five items were plastic and the overall number of plastic items has increased with time. This is in line with global trends, and highlights the need for individuals to act to reduce their plastic use.
What to do?
If you want to be part of the solution, you can start by reducing or eliminating single-use plastics from your daily life. You can get started by skipping straws or other items, and expand out from there. You can also make sure you discard of trash responsibly in coastal areas. Never place trash or recycling in overflowing bins as it’s likely to blow away and end up in a nearby waterway. Favor lidded trash cans and recycling bins when discarding of trash. And, of course, help out a shoreline near you by picking up trash during annual cleanup events or regular beach visits. You can #BeTheSolution and help #BeatPlasticPollution!