Nearly 20,000 Pounds of Trash Collected from Rhode Island Shores During International Coastal Cleanup in September

PROVIDENCE, RI – On September 19, 2015, Save The Bay coordinated the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup in Rhode Island. Nearly 2,200 volunteers statewide participated in the 30th year of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), collecting 19,469 pounds of trash over 65 miles of shoreline. The International Coastal Cleanup is the largest global volunteer effort on behalf of the ocean. Today, Save The Bay releases its 2015 International Coastal Cleanup Rhode Island Report.

The 47,397 cigarette butts collected made up 39 percent of all trash collected on Rhode Island’s coast. Along with cigarette butts, other top 10 trash items collected (in order) were 10,448 food wrappers, 7,960 plastic bottle caps, 6,023 plastic beverage bottles, 5,037 straws and stirrers, 3,689 drink cans, 3,678 metal bottle caps, 3,655 plastic bags, 3,557 glass bottles and 2,726 plastic/foam packaging. Volunteers also encountered such unusual findings as a boat floorboard, voodoo doll, traffic cone, kiddie swimming pool, craft supplies, frying pan, sunglasses and more.

Tiny trash, representing pieces of glass and plastic less than 2.5 cm in diameter, also were a significant component of trash collected, at 38,911 bits. Tiny trash occurs because most litter does not biodegrade, but rather breaks down into smaller pieces. Data from Rhode Island’s cleanup will become part of Ocean Conservancy’s global report in spring 2016.

This year, in the Rhode Island International Coastal Cleanup:

  • 2,199 volunteers participated in an ICC cleanup
  • 19,469 pounds of trash were collected, an increase of 3,101 pounds over last year
  • 65 miles of shoreline were covered, and for the first time, a cleanup was held in every coastal town in Rhode Island
  • 160,205 total items were collected and documented

“These data help us understand where the trash is coming from,” said Save The Bay Volunteer and Internship Manager July Lewis.  “The biggest source is from people eating, drinking and smoking on the beach and then leaving their trash behind. It is important that beachgoers bring an empty garbage bag with them and dispose of their trash; anything to prevent leaving trash on the beach,” Other sources of trash include inland litter that washes down storm drains, illegal dumping, and fishing and boating debris.

Lewis is quick to credit the thousands of volunteers who make the International Coastal Cleanup possible. “Our volunteers make this event happen. We are especially grateful for our ‘Beach Captains’ who organize and lead cleanups in their communities. With their help, we are able to keep our beaches clean and spread the word that it is not okay to trash the Bay,” she said. In addition to the International Coastal Cleanup, Save The Bay organizes other shoreline cleanups throughout Rhode Island from March through November. For volunteers interested in learning about leading a shoreline cleanup, Save The Bay will offer its next Shoreline Cleanup Leader Training on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. until noon, at the Save The Bay Center in Providence.

Save The Bay thanks the sponsors of 2015 Rhode Island International Coastal Cleanup National Grid, Citizens Bank, Dominion, Bank Of America, REI, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar, WalMart, Zipcar, New England Med Waste Services, LLC, Environmental Packaging 2.0 , Professional Security Services, and Davitt Design Build, Inc.

Always held on the third Saturday in September, the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2016, with alternate cleanups throughout September and October. For more information on participating as a volunteer or sponsor, contact Save The Bay at [email protected].

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