Why is it so important to keep Vancouver beaches pollution-free?
Cleanups are particularly important in Vancouver because coastal cities are a high risk to the ocean. There’s a higher chance for harmful byproducts of coastal city waste to run-off through waterways and straight into the ocean than landlocked cities. To keep the ocean healthy, it’s vital that waste from human activity in coastal cities is handled responsibly and effectively. This is why beach cleanups are so important in urban environments, and why we focus on keeping Vancouver’s most popular beaches pollution-free.
With a population density of 2.5 million as of 2019, there are only 8 main public beaches for Vancouverites to share and enjoy. Keeping these beaches healthy, clean and free from becoming a gateway for marine pollution is the fundamental priority of Surfrider Vancouver.
How do beach cleanups help the marine plastic pollution problem?
Beach cleanups are creating a worldwide awakening to the plastic pollution crisis and prompting us to examine our consumer lifestyles. Marine pollution is an inarguable problem in our oceans because we can see it with our own eyes, unlike the harder-to-grasp long term impacts of climate change. Seeing plastic pollution on our shores triggers a responsibility to protect our beaches, creating powerful communities of citizens who all share the same desire: to preserve the health and beauty of the environment we call home.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, over 15 million volunteers worldwide have taken part in beach cleans since 1986. That’s resulted in 317,202,800 pounds of trash collected and removed from the ocean. All of these 15 million volunteers are likely to be more engaged and aware of their plastic consumption and disposal by witnessing the circumstances first-hand.
“People should join beach cleanups because they provide a fun environment that fuels an awakening towards the need to examine our consumer lifestyles. After picking up all the plastics and specifically single use plastics off the beach, it’s hard to ever go back to using them or not speak up against them.” – Kahi Pacarro – Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii
The importance of beach cleans
+ Remove plastic from the ocean
Thinking up tangible ways to remove micro-plastics from the ocean is headache inducing. That’s why it’s so important for us to capture plastics in their larger forms before they become too small to remove. Luckily, nature has provided easy-to-capture systems for larger pieces of plastic: beaches. Sand and rocks provide a rough surface to hold even the smallest of styrofoam balls when they wash ashore; they can be sifted out and removed from the marine environment where they could otherwise be eaten by fish.
+ Collect data to conquer the main culprits of plastic debris
In order to end plastic pollution, we need to target the most common plastic items we find. We use the data from what we collect on cleans to create awareness and educate the public on reducing the consumption of these problematic items.
+ Create awareness for our own plastic consumption habits
Actively searching for trash on the beach helps us in examining our own consumer habits. We find half-rotten coffee cups that match the one we used for this morning’s coffee. We find coca-cola cans with a logo design dated back to the 1970s, and bottle caps from our favourite beer manufacturers. Would you be inclined to throw it out again, knowing where it could end up?
+ Connecting with a surrounding, like-minded community
Vancouver can often feel like a lonely place to live. Our beach cleans help to connect locals and tourists alike in a common ground we all share – the motivation to protect and enjoy our environment. Connecting with likeminded people can boost the morale to take environmental action even further and not feel lost and hopeless in the face of environmental devastation.