by Autumn Ayers
Led by The Ocean Conservancy, the International Coastal Cleanup, held on September 17 each year, inspires over 200,000 people to restore marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution. From oceans, lakes, and streams to roadsides, parks, and neighborhoods, the A Rocha worldwide family hosted cleanups in nine countries last month! Driven by a love for God and all that he has made, our efforts strive to create waters of hope around the world.
In the United States, our Marine Conservation Program worked from coast to coast, hosting a beach cleanup in Florida with our new Marine Program interns and a nurdle hunt in Southern California with local college students (learn more about nurdles and why they’re harmful for the environment). During the nurdle hunt at Crystal Cove State Park, we collected 5,951 nurdles! Thankfully, the Florida team at Canaveral National Seashore found a fairly clean beach and was also able to focus on smaller plastics that other cleanup efforts often miss.
Additional A Rocha organizations and friends around the world hosted beach cleanups in Portugal, Kenya, Lebanon, and Singapore. As noted in Lebanon, even a beach that looks pristine can be hiding several bags worth of garbage. The friends of A Rocha group in Singapore saw firsthand the ways that plastic waste can harm marine life: in less than an hour, the group collected 64 lbs of trash and found two Mangrove Horseshoe Crabs Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda caught in a giant knot of fishing nets. Sadly, one was already dead, but the group worked quickly to free the other and release it into the sea.
At the same time, other A Rocha groups celebrated World Cleanup Day in France, Switzerland, and five different locations in the Netherlands. In A Rocha South Africa, volunteers took the extra step to repurpose old pet food bags for their river cleanup. Here in the United States, our conservation ecologist Brittany Michalski cleaned up a highway in Sparta, Wisconsin as a part of our Love Your Place Program.
Thank you to everyone around the world who made the International Coastal Cleanup and World Cleanup Day a success! Learn more about caring for our oceans and waterways year round with the Plastics Toolkit and other A Rocha creation care resources.