PA Environment Digest Blog -On February 12, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful reported 12,610 volunteers removed 488,135 pounds of trash and tires from watersheds and waterways across the state during 382 events as part of the fall International Coastal Cleanup.
Litter reaches the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways. When it rains, litter on sidewalks and streets accumulates and is swept into storm drains.
The recent Pennsylvania Litter Research Study
by Keep PA Beautiful, in partnership with the departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation, identified over 500 million pieces of litter along Pennsylvania roadways.
The most common items identified were cigarette butts (37 percent) and plastics (30 percent), with plastic film and beverage containers most prevalent.
The PA International Coastal Cleanup results mirrored those of the litter study.
The top five items collected during the fall cleanup initiative were: Cigarette butts – 14,348; Plastic bottles – 4,637; Food wrappers – 4,016; Tires – 3,499; and Beverage cans – 3,418
“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful offers Pick Up Pennsylvania initiatives in the spring and fall to encourage folks to keep our neighborhoods clean and beautiful. While cleanups are necessary, we also need strategies to prevent litter from happening in the first place,” explained Shannon Reiter, President of Keep PA Beautiful. “The Pennsylvania Litter Research Study will help inform a customized, strategic plan to reduce littering that could include expanding solid waste and recycling infrastructure and developing effective school-based and consumer education.”
“By removing 65 trash bags full of items like plastic bottles, food wrappers, and cigarette butts, our volunteers stopped many harmful materials from polluting the marsh and our drinking water,” said Elizabeth Barmach Community Engagement Associate, Heritage Conservancy. “Throughout the cleanup, volunteers were encouraged to learn more about the Delaware River Watershed and to sign a pledge to reduce their use of single-use plastics like bags, utensils, and straws. It was inspirational to see so many people come together for the betterment of the community and the Watershed.”
Partners represented during the cleanup, included volunteers from The Home Depot, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County, Toyota USA, Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in partnership with the Danaher Lynch Family Foundation and The Nature Conservancy.
“We are honored to partner with the Ocean Conservancy and grateful for groups such as the Heritage Conservancy and local volunteers who have become annual participants in the program,” said Reiter. “Our oceans connect the entire planet. Once trash reaches our oceans, it can cause harm to sea life by entangling them or being mistaken for food. Plastics and other debris work their way up the food chain, affecting what we consume. It really has dire consequences.
“Thank you to all the volunteers who gave up their personal time to get wet and dirty to help keep our waterways clean,” said Reiter.
The International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest volunteer effort to improve the health of the world’s oceans and waterways. The cleanup gives citizens around the world the opportunity to clean up their local waterways and to be a part of a larger movement.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful coordinates the effort in Pennsylvania as part of Pick Up Pennsylvania.
Funding for the International Coastal Cleanup coordination in Pennsylvania is provided by the Department of Environmental Protection.