More than 1,000 Save the Sound volunteers are expected to hit Connecticut beaches this weekend for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Individuals and community groups ranging from a SCUBA club to Bridgeport’s US District Court will #SuitUpToCleanUp their favorite spots across the full width of Connecticut’s shoreline.
Each September, the International Coastal Cleanup, founded by Ocean Conservancy 33 years ago, brings together about 11 million volunteers to remove trash from coastlines around the world. Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, has been Connecticut Coordinator for the event since 2002.
In the past seven years alone, more than 14,000 local volunteers have picked up 50 tons of litter and debris from Connecticut’s beaches, rivers, coastal marshes, and island shores. Last year saw 1,631 volunteers gather at 61 different sites to rid Connecticut’s shorelines of 8,563 pounds of trash. Each item is tracked and reported for inclusion in Ocean Conservancy’s annual index of global marine debris.
“Last year Save the Sound cleanup volunteers picked up 3,381 plastic straws and drink stirrers, and 1,288 plastic grocery bags,”said Soundkeeper Bill Lucey. “We’re hoping to see those numbers start to go down, because people are realizing the easiest way to get trash off the beaches is to make sure it never gets there in the first place. Using reusable travel mugs and water bottles, skipping straws, and bringing your own bag to the store can all cut down on the plastic and Styrofoam that clog Connecticut’s storm drains and coastline.
“On average, each cleanup volunteer collects about 22 pounds of trash — so every single participant is making a big difference. When people see the impact they can make on their favorite beach or river, they start to feel empowered to work for policies that benefit all the birds and marine life that call the Sound and its shoreline home,” Lucey added.
Save the Sound’s 2018 Coastal Cleanup season kicked off in late August with cleanups in West Haven and Darien, and continues through October with a total of more than 55 cleanups. This year Save the Sound has a special focus on plastics, including plastic bags, straws, and other trash that harms wildlife that ingest or become tangled in it.
Interested volunteers can register for a nearby cleanup online.
Saturday, Sept. 15
- Oyster Shell Park, Norwalk, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Large cleanup with Norwalk River Watershed Association and Save the Sound’s 2018 sponsor, Subaru of New England.
- Long Wharf Nature Preserve, New Haven, 9-noon, with New Haven Land Trust.
- Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, 9-noon, with Friends of Hammonasset.
- McCook Beach, Cini Beach, and Hole in the Wall Beach, Niantic, 10-11:30. Large cleanup with East Lyme High School.
- City Pier and Waterfront Park, New London, 9:30-1. Underwater SCUBA cleanup with SECONN Divers.
Sunday, Sept. 16
- Perry’s Mill Ponds on Mill River, Fairfield, 9-11 a.m. with Mill River Wetlands Association.
- Bluff Point State Park, Groton, 10 a.m.-noon. Large cleanup with Mystic Aquarium.
Saturday, Sept. 22
- Sandy Point, West Haven, 9 a.m.-noon with West Haven Watershed Restoration Committee and the Soundkeeper Bill Lucey.