Published on The Weather Channel by Allie Goolrick, Sept 20, 2014
We tend to think of the beach as an unspoiled paradise with miles of
white sand, palm trees and turquoise waters. But what if you added 2
million cigarette butts and 1.6 million food wrappers into that picture?
sad reality is that across the globe, many of our most gorgeous beaches
have turned into repositories for garbage, whether washed up or left
behind by visitors.
(MORE: 2013 International Coastal Cleanup Day Finds)
there is some hope. On Saturday, volunteers around the globe will flock
to the shore for International Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual
call-to-action for people to help tidy up summer hotspots after the busy
tourism season is over.
And the sheer amount of trash that volunteers can collect during these annual cleanups is staggering.
Event sponsor Ocean Conservancy reports that last year,
collected over 12.3 million pounds of trash during the one-day event,
which is one of the largest volunteer gatherings on the planet. Along
with millions of cigarette butts and food wrappers, workers in 92
countries collected thousands of plastic and glass bottles, plastic and
paper bags – even an entire apartment’s worth of discarded furniture.
Some of the weirder finds? An iPad, a plastic eye, a lava lamp, a loaded
gun and all the staples of a wedding, including a wedding dress and
(WATCH: A Stunning Find Off the California Coast)
may seem like sort of an oddball treasure hunt, but Ocean Conservancy
hopes the cleanup can not only put a dent in the trash strewn across
beaches around the world, but also bring awareness to how damaging
littering can be to both beaches and the ocean.
"Our goal isn't just to clean the beaches, it is to educate people about
in the first place," Park Ranger Mike Aymond with the Gulf Islands
National Seashore told the Pensacola News Journal. "Some pieces of
debris can outlive the oldest fish in the sea."
Data from the
event helps Ocean Conservancy and other ocean and environmental
organizations to figure out what sorts of garbage are the most harmful
and how to keep them out of the ocean, according to Ocean Conservancy.
If you’re too far from the beach to make a day trip, Deep Sea News proposes some alternate suggestions for how to , from buying from eco-conscious companies to simply recycling.
To sign up for a cleanup near you, visit .
MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Cleaning Up Our Oceans