Just last weekend, communities across Washington, from Spokane to Ocean Shores, organized 8 local cleanups in 7 cities for national Make a Difference Day, a regional event coordinated by the Plastic Free WA / WA Sin Plástico Coalition. Over 120 volunteers collectively removed ~1000 lbs of trash from rivers, streets, and beaches, and educated their communities not only about the problem of plastic pollution, but what we can do about it.
Here at Surfrider, cleanups are an essential part of our Rise Above Plastics program, the aim of which is to eliminate plastics in the marine environment through raising awareness and advocating for source reduction on the local, state, federal, and even global stage! As much as we love a good beach cleanup, we recognize they are NOT a solution. We will never clean our way out of the plastic pollution crisis. That’s why we collect valuable data at cleanups that we leverage toward campaigns such as statewide bans on single use plastics (like bags and expanded polystyrene aka styrofoam).
Fighting plastic pollution is an uphill battle that can often feel overwhelming, and to be honest, a little hopeless at times. What keeps us going is not only the dedication of thousands of volunteers that keep showing up at cleanups, community events, and public hearings, but also all the partner organizations and agencies working together towards a plastic pollution-free Washington.
Read on for some brief summaries of the this year’s Make a Difference Day community cleanups!
Copalis & Ocean Shores – In it for the long haul
Two crews covered the outer coast area, removing an estimated 350 lbs of trash from Ocean Shores and from Griffith-Priday State Park. Shout out to State Parks and the Coastal Interpretive Center for providing and passing out supplies to beachgoers on their way out to the coast. Twin Harbors Waterkeeper organized a small but mighty crew that hiked, heaved, and hauled their trash over hill and sand and dune to dispose of it properly.
Olympia – Grabbin’ butts and savin’ beaches
The Olympia Surfrider Chapter partnered with Pacific Shellfish Institute and Thurston County Master Recyclers/Composters to table in downtown Olympia. Volunteers removed 6,638 cigarette butts weighing in at over 14 lbs, then were treated to a free beverage (or hot soup) from Stellar Juices (in a BYO reusable plastic-free mug, of course).
Tacoma – Trick-or-Trash?!
The South Sound Surfrider Chapter did their Make a Difference Day cleanup in style, showing up decked out in their finest cleanup costumes. A dozen folks showed up, lookin’ mighty festive, and removed 24 lbs of trash. I think we can all agree they deserve a treat for all that trash!
Seattle – Sending it with Senators (and Reps)
So many organization worked together to make this an extra special event, complete with ETAP surveys, games, and some surprise speakers, including Senator Rolfes and Representative Berry. They raised a ton of awareness, with dozens of volunteers (and some enthusiastic doggos!) showing up and helping remove 120 lbs of trash from Seward Park.
Spokane – “It’s your river – we protect it together”
The Spokane Riverkeepers organized this successful event, with a few dozen folks that turned out to remove roughly 350 lbs from the banks of the Spokane River!
Bellingham – Double the fun!
The Northwest Straits chapter supported REsources in coordinating not one, but TWO cleanups, bookending the event with a cleanup at Lake Padden on the weekend prior, followed by an Oct 23rd Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol survey (ETAP) on Sunday.