An estimated 1,000 volunteers showed up to shorelines throughout Connecticut to help put an end to water pollution during the annual International Coastal Cleanup hosted by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound. Volunteers could choose among more than 20 beach clean-up communities in Connecticut and were able to sign up on the Save the Sound website. While this years’ data has not been tallied, Save the Sound reported last year that over 60+ miles of shoreline was cleaned up.
For the past 40 years, Save the Sound has been cleaning, surveying, protecting and restoring Connecticut waterways that connect to Long Island Sound. In the past 10 years alone, Save the Sound and a total of 17,054 volunteers have removed 124,063 pounds (just over 62 tons) of trash from Connecticut shorelines.
With such solid turn outs each year, the amount of trash on shorelines appears to have decreased. In 2017, a total of 8,320.5 pounds of trash was removed during the shoreline clean up, and in 2018 only 7,660 pounds was removed, indicating that there may have been less trash that needed to be picked up compared to the previous years, according to officials.
“The coastal cleanups are something that is a local effort that seems small but has a huge impact on the surrounding waters, these clean ups take out trash and pollution that would eventually end up in our oceans,” said Anthony Allen, the Ecological Communications Specialist at Save the Sound, based in New Haven.
The top three pollutants found in Connecticut waterways during the coastal cleanup were cigarette butts, food wrappers, and plastic bottle caps. In 2017 Save the Sound picked up 28,390 cigarette butts from the water, the number dropped to half in 2018 with 16,666 cigarette butts.
However, there is still much work to do, according to the U.S News & World Report’s Natural Environment Ranking May 2019; Connecticut ranks #6 overall but drops on the list to #12 for air and water quality and #18 for pollution. Rhode Island holds first place in both the Natural Environment Ranking and Air and Water Quality.
Save the Sound encourages everyone to get involved with environmental protection, whether it’s participating in coastal cleanups, supporting their work by becoming a member, or joining their activist network.
For those who may have missed the International Coastal Cleanup Day but are interested in volunteering, Save the Sound will be having more cleanup events happening at the end of September and throughout October. Officials encourage more volunteers to sign up for future events online at www.savethesound.org/iccregistration.
Reported and written for CT by the Numbers by Hannah Johnson.