Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University is preparing for its 21st Annual Virginia Waterways Cleanup (part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup), one of the largest volunteer events in Virginia. The Cleanups will take place during September and October with a large number of events being held on the official “International Coastal Cleanup Day,” Saturday, September 19, 2015.
In 2014, 8,032 volunteers picked up more than 263,000 pounds of trash and recyclable materials in Virginia as part of this statewide event. In the 20 years that Clean Virginia Waterways has been organizing the Virginia Waterways Cleanup, more than 84,000 volunteers have removed close to 3.7 million pounds of trash from our rivers and beaches. The single most prevalent item found is cigarette butts, generally accounting for about 15 percent of the total number of debris items found. Plastic debris, especially convenience food items (bottles, cans, food wrappers, straws, etc.), make up between 60 – 80 percent of all that litter, and close to 80 percent of all debris originates from land-based sources.
Here are some highlights from previous years:
- In 2014, 236 volunteers in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge reported 904 balloons in a single cleanup.
- In 2014, Virginia Beach Chapter of Surfrider Foundation did a cigarette butt targeted cleanup of 8 blocks of Atlantic Avenue. They documented 3,791 cigarette butts in this brief distance.
- In 2011, more than 7,600 tires were removed from a tributary to the James River, putting tires in the Top 10 list for Virginia that year.
There are many events planned throughout Hampton Roads this year and we are hoping to add many more. Want to get involved? If you would like to volunteer your time and participate in one of these events, please visit the Clean Virginia Waterways website often to see which cleanups have been added. We have a Facebook event page to keep you up to date – please join this invite and invite your friends to join too! You will also be able to find cleanup info on the askHRGreen.org event calendar.
We are also looking for new groups, businesses, schools and individuals to organize additional cleanups. As a Site Captain, you will get support and supplies from Clean Virginia Waterways including trash bags, posters, gloves, pencils and data cards. We will post your cleanup on our website and social media sites to help you grow your volunteer group. Site Captains get a really cool t-shirt too! This is a great way to get out and support your community.
Please help us make this year’s Virginia Waterways Cleanup the biggest year ever. For more information or to sign up, visit https://www.longwood.edu/cleanva/VolunteerForCleanup.html or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post contributed by Christina Trapani with Clean Virginia Waterways and Longwood University.