2005-08-25 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken

An anniversary will be celebrated in grand fashion on September 17. The American Littoral Society will be celebrating the 20th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, an effort that encompasses over 80 countries. They are mobilizing volunteers from all over the world to clean up our wetlands, waterways and watersheds in an effort to clean our oceans, bays, ponds and rivers.

The campaign kicked off last Wednesday as the New York City Sanitation Department presented one of its ad-toting trucks near the Cross Bay Bridge. The poster, designed pro bono by graphic artist, Terry Clarke. The posters have been installed on 500 refuse and recycling collection trucks.

Members of the volunteer clean up crews will pick up the trash while jotting down what was collected - information that goes into a national database to study trends and pinpoint local solutions.

Although the Sanitation Department is not responsible for beach cleaning (it falls under the Parks Department’s jurisdiction), the Sanitation Department has chipped in to offer promotional assistance for the first time. Trucks will carry most of the posters around coastal communities and the Littoral Society also plans to distribute flyers in libraries and other locations.

People who wish to participate in the event (the exact dates vary for some locations) can call the Cleanup Hotline at (800) 449-0790, or visit the Web site: www.alsnyc.org. Each beach or site is assigned a leader who can be contacted directly. The number of cleaners ranges from a handful to hundreds, depending on shore size. “People are very eager to volunteer their time,” ALS member Mickey Cohen said. “They’re looking for opportunities to go out there and help.”

For those who do not want to join a concerted effort on this day or want to clean an area that has not been organized (for instance, our family picks a small pond that feeds into the Jamaica Bay marshes), it is a worthwhile effort to contribute something back to nature which gives us so much in return. Consider making a clean-up group consisting of family members (i.e.: parents and children), fishing buddies or neighbors. In 2004, over 7,700 volunteers cleaned and documented over 215,000 pounds of debris at 312 sites across New York, all coordinated throughout New York State by the American Littoral Society.

In 2004, volunteers from the United States were joined by people from 87 countries in cleaning up debris from our beaches, rivers, and lakes. Worldwide, more that 305,000 people removed over 7.7 million pounds of debris from more than 11,000 miles of shoreline. More than 6,600 divers participated in underwater cleanups, gathering over 155,000 pounds of debris from 382 miles of riverbed and sea floor.

The 2004 Cleanup-held on September 18, 2004-saw growth in several areas. Five new countries-Brunei, Malawi, Samoa, Sudan, and Tunisia-joined in the cleanup efforts. Volunteer participation also increased in several countries. In India, 20,160 people volunteered.

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