Ocean City Today

Coastal Cleanup on resort’s beach planned for Saturday

Environmental event aims to increase awareness on frequent trash items found
By Kara Hallissey | Sep 07, 2017

(Sept. 8, 2017) Tiny plastic pieces, bottles, caps, bags, straws and cigarette butts — these are the most frequently found discards in the ocean and bays during the Coastal Cleanup, which will take place in Ocean City on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Participants should show up at Ocean City’s City Hall on Third Street where organizers will distribute trash bags, latex gloves and trash tally sheets.

The Coastal Cleanup is part of an International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, an organization working to protect the world’s oceans. It uses the types and amounts of trash collected during these efforts to help identify sources of debris and to explore ways to cut litter.

“The importance of Ocean Conservancy is the nonprofit monitors all data globally and can pinpoint the top 10 pieces of trash picked up,” said Sandi Smith, development and marketing coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. “The Coastal Cleanup gives scientists data on what to study and can bring public awareness to specific items [affecting the environment] like Styrofoam boxes and plastic straws.”

Last year, about 100 people picked up more than 500 pounds of trash in Ocean City, including a plastic banana, bicycle parts and dozens of dental floss picks. A volunteer was shocked at the number of cigarette butts she picked up and vowed to kick her littering habit, Smith said.

“It promotes behavioral changes and people can be moved by their own actions,” she said. “The most important part is these figures are tallied and recorded as one of the many coastal towns throughout the country to document and send back information to the Ocean Conservancy.”

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the Town of Ocean City, the Ocean City Surf Club, Chesapeake Utilities and Sandpiper Energy are sponsoring the event.

Organizers will have a comprehensive list of trash assignment areas for participants that will encompass the beaches and bays in Ocean City and West Ocean City.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 35 people had registered to participate and Smith expects 20-30 student volunteers from the Connections Club at Stephen Decatur High School to help as well.

Volunteers will each receive a T-shirt courtesy of Chesapeake Utilities and Sandpiper Energy while supplies last.

More than half a million volunteers from 112 countries participated in the 2016 Coastal Cleanup, which covered enough miles of coastline to walk around the moon twice, Smith said.

“These events encourage areas to start programs or to make changes [such as] purchasing paper straws instead of plastic,” Smith said. “It is mindboggling, but the nice thing is the Ocean Conservancy keeps track of the results globally, putting into perspective what is found out there.”

Smith said this event is perfect for those needing community service hours or an activity for the Maryland Day to Serve Initiative, which gives all state employees four consecutive hours of paid leave to participate in a volunteer activity.

Assateague Coastal Trust and the Surfrider’s Foundation will also host Coastal Cleanup events in the resort this month.

“People can participate in more than one cleanup event,” Smith said.

To see the results of the global collection effort, go to www.oceanconservancy.org.

For more information about the Coastal Cleanup or to register for Saturday’s events, call Smith at 410-213-2297 ext. 106 or email sandis@mdcoastalbays.org.

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