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Success of Small-Scale Cleanups

The question of whether small-scale reef and beach cleanups actually make any long term difference has been of debate for the past few years. With new efforts to clean up the ocean taking effect at the source of plastic distribution, such as the Pacific Garbage Patch, doubts have arose as to whether the meticulous hand-picking of trash during cleanups is worth the hassle.

I don’t believe the value of beach cleanups falls under the amount of trash being removed or the impact they have on the overall pollution problem in oceans, although helpful. The value of beach cleanups comes with the impact it has on those participating and the community where the cleanup is held. Cleanups offer an opportunity for people to get involved in conservation where they may not have normally thought to. The amount of individuals that came to the beach this past weekend to enjoy the sun, yet came and stopped by our tent or decided to the join the cleanup proves that their are people that care about the conditions of their local beaches.

When you initially walked onto Riviera Beach it looks clean. In fact, when we first arrived we were concerned we had picked a beach that wasn’t as in need of cleaning as others. However, when you began to look through the sand and walk next to the seaweed rack you notice the micro plastics, wrappers, straws, styrofoam, rope, fishing line, etc. that was originally out of noticeable view. While our group of volunteers made an impact on the cleanliness of the beach for the meantime and potentially reduced the amount of trash that would make its way back into the ocean, the most rewarding part of the experience was getting to work with the passionate volunteers, lifeguards, and sponsors that helped make the cleanup possible. No, our cleanup didn’t remove thousands of trash from the ocean, but it did make a lasting impression on the community and provide inspiration for people to make environmentally friendly decisions that a machinery in the middle of the Pacific can’t do.

Post By: Taylor Cunningham

Taylor Cunningham