OCEAN CITY – An international cleanup initiative is making its way to local beaches this month.
In celebration of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup initiative, officials with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Ocean City Surf Club and the Town of Ocean City are inviting community members to help pick up trash on Saturday, Sept. 7, beginning at 10 a.m.
Each year, volunteers in communities around the world participate in the coastal cleanup with a goal of picking up trash and recording each item collected. The idea is to use the data to identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future.
Last year, nearly 800,000 people from more than 100 countries removed 250 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways as part of the International Coastal Cleanup. In addition to removing trash, volunteers contributed to the world’s largest database on marine debris by logging each trash item.
Sandi Smith, marketing and development coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, said coordinated beach cleanup efforts began in Ocean City in the 1990s and expanded to include Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup event more than a decade ago.
“The Ocean Conservancy’s international cleanup has been going on for over 30 years and Assateague typically always did a beach cleanup …,” she said. “So we decided to do an additional cleanup on a different date in Ocean City.”
Smith said the idea was to focus on Ocean City, offer community service hours, and lay the groundwork for future litter- and source-reduction programs and grant funding.
“That’s why we decided in the first place to start these cleanups,” she said. “We wanted to take things a step further.”
Smith said the coastal cleanup also highlights the amount of trash left on the resort’s beaches and sand dunes and in waterways each year. At last year’s cleanup, for example, more than 200 volunteers collected more than 500 pounds of trash in Ocean City.
“The importance of getting involved in any trash cleanup is that it creates awareness and helps with behavior modification …,” she said. “By participating in these events, it opens their eyes to something they were oblivious to.”
Smith said everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate in this year’s cleanup.
Each year, locals, students, organization members and those with the Adopt Your Beach and Adopt Your Street programs volunteer at Ocean City’s cleanup event.
The coastal cleanup is also registered with “Day to Serve,” an annual initiative that encourages Maryland residents and state employees to choose a day to participate in or to host a volunteer activity. This year, state employees will once again be granted four hours of administrative leave to participate in a volunteer activity of their choice from Sept. 11 to Oct. 10.
“Now we have state employees that also join us in this initiative,” Smith said. “Last year, we actually had people that came from the Baltimore area.”
Ocean City’s International Coastal Cleanup will take place on Saturday, Sept. 7. The event starts at 10 a.m. at Ocean City Town Hall, located on 3rd Street.
Volunteers will receive trash bags, latex gloves, trash tally sheets and a commemorative T-shirt, courtesy of Chesapeake Energy and Sandpiper Utilities, while supplies last.
Tally sheets can be recorded online at www.ocsurfclub.org, or mailed or dropped off to Ocean City Town Hall.
For more information, or to participate in the cleanup event, contact Sandi Smith at email@example.com or call 410-213-2297 ext. 106.
Participants can register ahead of time or simply show up the day of the cleanup. Those interested can also contact Effie Cox with the Ocean City Surf Club at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-600-5953.
Assateague Coastal Trust will also host their International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 8 a.m. to noon at Assateague Island National Seashore. The nonprofit’s cleanup will coincide with the national park’s National Public Lands Day beach cleanup.
For more information, visit www.actforbays.org.