International Coastal Cleanup

July 31, 2014
Elissa Reineck

Well, we weren’t coastal or international, but we were out there.  As part of this world-wide effort, some great Howard County volunteers spent a few hours on a Saturday morning cleaning up a stream and the stream banks around it.

One interesting thing about the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is the data collection.  Usually when we do our Howard County cleanups we track the weight of trash and recycling and the number of volunteers and their hours.  This works for us and is pretty efficient and useful.  The ICC (the cleanup, not the road) provides clipboards and data cards for tracking very specific information such as the number of cigarette butts.  Sigh.  Believe me, it is difficult to carry a trash bag, separate trash from recycling, and carry a clipboard.  It’s just not that practical.

However, getting over my bad attitude, it is interesting and raises your awareness about what you are actually looking at and picking up.  The most unusual thing we took out of our environment this time was a great-looking lawn mower.  We removed 2 plastic Adirondack chairs, and one of the volunteers actually took one home to keep.  Side benefit of volunteering!

But I digress.  We did our best to track the data the ICC way.  Our biggest items were cigarette butts and plastic bags.  The overall results of the world-wide cleanup are pretty amazing – From the Ocean Conservancy’s website – “By understanding what is out there, we can work together on solutions. For instance, each year volunteers collect more than a million beverage bottles from beaches, shorelines, and underwater in just one day.”

We’re done with local cleanups for 2012, but will be back for more in the Spring of 2013.  Hope to see you out there.  Please contact me if you have a group that would be interested, or if you just want to be added to the email list.  Many thanks to the volunteers and to Sue Muller, naturalist extraordinaire with Howard County Recreation and Parks.   We planned and worked the 2012 cleanups together.

For more information on the ICC, check out the Ocean Conservancy’s website.  They have a lot of great programs putting all they’ve got into saving our oceans.

Elissa Reineck
OES Volunteer Coordinator