|Oregon Coast Notes|
|SOLV Spring Beach Cleanup 2011 - A Smashing Success|
|Oregon Coast Notes - News|
Question: How many pounds of trash can volunteers pick up along the Oregon coast in just a few hours?
Answer: The equivalent of almost 30 Smart cars.
On March 26, the 28th annual SOLV Spring Beach Cleanup collected 45,381 pounds of garbage.
That was in less than four hours.
And, for the first time, 2,000 pounds of castoffs were recycled, SOLV program coordinator Rachael Pecore said in an interview.
Since the coordinated coastline cleanup began in 1984, the number of checkpoints has increased almost every year.
This year, there were 47 checkpoints set up along the 363-mile coastline, Pecore said.
That’s two more than last year, showing the popularity of the annual event.
Volunteer numbers dipped this year to 3,327, but that’s an incredible number of people scrambling across the sands in blustery weather.
“It’s impressive that many volunteers turned out. It just poured,” Pecore said, adding that she was particularly impressed by the number of children involved.
“We had a boy in Cannon Beach who was seven years old and he said it was the ninth time he had been to cleanup -- he had been doing this since he was in the womb,” she said. “We’re doing this for future generations. That’s very cool.”
The southern coast community of Brookings was especially keen to scour their beaches after the March 11 tsunami.
There, volunteers retrieved 1,800 pounds of trash, doubling the amount found last year. At Mill Beach, volunteers collected 300 pounds of fiberglass, wood and antennas from a wrecked boat.
“A couple of boats had shaken loose with the surge (from the tsunami), and this was came back in,” Pecord said. “Oceanographers tell us we won’t see a lot of debris from Japan for another couple of years.”
But every spring cleanup sees trash from Asia, showing how far stuff travels once it’s caught in the current.
“We regularly see bottles, caps and lighters from Korea, Japan, Russia and China” on Oregon beaches, she said. “It serves as a reminder we’re all in one watershed on the Pacific Rim.”
The SOLV beach cleanup is noteworthy because it set a global trend: Oregon was the first state to begin coast-wide cleanups when Judy Hansen of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Eleanor Dye of the Oregon Sanitary Service Institute (now the Oregon
Refuse and Recycling Associaton) teamed up to encourage volunteers to pick up flotsam from the beaches.
Their 1984 kickoff spread the next year to Texas and California, growing every year to reach more than 100 countries by 2009.
SOLV estimates the global cleanup draws 500,000 volunteers a year.
Last fall, SOLV extended the cleanup to rivers and inland waters, based on research showing as much as 80% of water-bound trash comes from land.
“It’s not just the aesthetic or public health hazard” associated with trash that makes these cleanups so critical, Pecore said. “It’s harmful to wildlife.”
Plastic mistaken for food is digested by marine animals and birds and can sicken or kill.
“One person, for one bird or one turtle or one whale or one seal ... means a lot,” she said, noting that all these creatures also can be injured and can die after ocean-bound plastic, rope or nets gets wrapped around their necks.
Pecore, 33, studied oceanography at Oregon State University, then turned from science to activism, to work with environmental non-profits like SOLV.
“I have a hard time walking by trash in my neighborhood,” she said.
For the second year, SOLV will join an international coastal cleanup this fall, organized by the Ocean Conservancy.
That global event is set for Sept. 17.
“Knowing that we’re part of an international effort is pretty inspiring,” Pecore said.
For more info: www.solv.org.