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Shoring up our resources

Have you ever strolled along a lovely shore, and had the wind takensomewhat out of your sails by the sight of even a single piece oflitter?

Have you ever strolled along a lovely shore, and had the wind taken somewhat out of your sails by the sight of even a single piece of litter?

You’re not alone. In many urban environments, shorelines offer the closest, most convenient bit of nature most Canadians see on a daily basis. That’s why keeping them clean is so important. And that’s why the Vancouver Aquarium, WWF-Canada and Loblaw are teaming up this month to offer a simple, hands-on way to get involved.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup runs from Sept. 17 through 25.

“There are many great things about this program, but the one I really like is that it is available to absolutely everyone,” says the Vancouver Aquarium’s Jill Dwyer, program manager for the cleanup. “I’ve seen parents cleaning up shorelines along with their babies, and this year we have a site co-ordinator in his ’80s.”

Getting involved is easy. Visit the website — shorelinecleanup.ca — and register either as a participant or local co-ordinator. Co-ordinators get to organize and run their local cleanup. Participants just need to show up.

“It started back in 1994 with just a handful of Vancouver Aquarium employees, who were taking part in the International Coastal Cleanup,” she recalls. “Then it grew to be a B.C.-wide program, and in 2002 it went national. Every year since 2003, we’ve had cleanups happening in every province and territory across Canada.”

Shoreline litter is unsightly and annoying, but it can also be deadly for birds and aquatic animals.

“We’re trying ensure it doesn’t get into the water and become aquatic debris,” Dwyer says.

“That can lead to toxic chemicals in the water, it can entangle the animals that live there, or they can ingest it and either choke or falsely think they are full, not getting the nutrients they need.”

Lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands — anywhere land meets water. One week’s co-ordinated effort in September can make a big difference throughout the year. This is the perfect, simple way to make a real contribution.