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The Green Life: Plan for International Coastal Cleanup Day (Hint: It's Sept. 17)

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August 26, 2011

Plan for International Coastal Cleanup Day (Hint: It's Sept. 17)

Beach litter Who hasn’t had this moment? It’s a beautiful summer day. You lay your towel down on the beach, don your sunglasses, sit back, and dig your feet in the sand. Then your toe pushes up against something. Is it a shell? No, too soggy. Some seaweed, perhaps? Unthinkingly, you reach and fish the item in question out of the sand. It’s a sweat-stained old sock. Awesome.

Those beach finds are gross, but their damper on your beach day is the smallest problem they pose: Marine litter kills thousands of animals each year and riddles our waterways with BPA, PCBs, DDE, and so many other pollutants, including plastic pellets

Marine litter is ubiquitous, and nobody quite knows how to clean it up entirely. Aberrations like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are evidence that we don't know the half of the damage we're doing to the ocean. But raising public awareness is a crucial first step. Want to get started? Sept. 17 is International Coastal Cleanup Day, an event spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy. All over the world, people will gather on beaches to pick up a bit of trash. It's a great way to engage with your community, and can serve as an act of solidarity with environmentalists across the globe. 

Check out Ocean Conservancy's website to learn more about the initiative, which has been going on for a quarter century. You can also sign up to get information about cleanups in your area: If you live close to the coast, there's a beach that could use your help.

--Mimi Dwyer

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