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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup kicks-off in Toronto

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The 19th annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup kicked-off this weekend at Toronto’s Woodbine Beach.

Volunteers from across the country are gathering on shorelines from September 15–23 for the event, which cleaned over 3,000 kilometres of shoreline last year.

“I didn’t realize how gross the beach was today until I actually started cleaning it,” said participant Jade Boyle.

At Woodbine Beach, nearly 200 volunteers collected more than 23,000 cigarette butts and almost 300 kilograms of garbage and recycling.Diapers, socks, bottles, and even a discarded sleeping bag where among some of the items that were taken from the beach.

“We’re really trying to get people to change their attitudes,” said Susan Debreceni, Shoreline Cleanup’s volunteer engagement coordinator.The Shoreline Cleanup has teamed up with WWF Canada and several corporate sponsors.

Tony Maas, director of the Fresh Water Program at WWF, says working with corporations is often a good way forward. “At WWF we start from the position of sound science and often we find solutions that are amenable to both industry and the environment,” Maas said.

“That said, there are also bottom lines,” he added, pointing to WWF’s opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would run through Great Bear Rainforest.

Maas also warns that there are many pollutants that are unseen. “We come from an era of expectation that governments are looking after all this for us and I can assure that in many cases they are not,” Maas said.

The kick-off event also featured RBC Olympian Valerie Hould-Marchand, who won a silver medal in synchronized swimming at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

After a couple of hours of cleaning the beach Hould-Marchand and her team collected more than 600 cigarette butts and two large bags of garbage and recycling.

“I think the key is: get involved, get your hands dirty, get into your shores and your water and start to care,” Hould-Marchand said.

There are more than 1,500 cleanup sites across Canada.

The 2011 Dirty Dozen List – Most Common Items Found During Cleanup

  • Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters                                                        351,238
  • Food Wrappers/Containers                                                        110,018
  • Bags (Plastic)                                                                               71,200
  • Caps, Lids                                                                                    65,220
  • Beverage Bottles (Plastic, 2 litres or less)                                   39,308
  • Beverage Cans                                                                             36,440
  • Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons                                           34,947
  • Straws, Stirrers                                                                             31,770
  • Bags (Paper)                                                                                 28,987
  • Beverage Bottles (Glass)                                                              26,857
  • Tobacco Packaging/Wrappers                                                     19,082
  • Cigar Tips                                                                                      18,102

Photo by: Jonathan Zettel