The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is the world’s largest volunteer effort to improve the health of the world’s oceans and waterways. For the last 33 years, the ICC has brought communities together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline.
Erie County has been involved in the ICC for the past 18 years in an effort to protect the Commonwealth’s 77 miles of Lake Erie coastline. This year’s cleanup efforts focused on 20 sites along the Lake Erie shoreline and watershed. 753 volunteers removed 2,119 pounds of trash, tires and other littered items from along the shoreline and waterways, and 209 bags of trash were collected. Cleanup efforts weren’t only limited to the land though. For the second straight year, dive teams took to the water on Presque Isle. 21 divers focused cleanup efforts in Misery Bay near Perry’s Monument and collected over 120 pounds of trash.
An important component of the ICC event is to not only collect trash but to gather data on the types, numbers and volume of trash. Ideally, every cigarette butt, every piece of microplastic, every discarded plastic bag, fork, plate and spoon are counted so a true understanding of the impact trash has on our waterways can be realized.
The collaboration between Erie County, the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been extremally successful. Since it began in 2003, over 20,000 volunteers have removed more than 135,000 pounds of trash along the Lake Erie Coastline.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful coordinates Pick Up Pennsylvania, in support of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, from September 1st through November 30th.