Great lakes basin spring clean-up efforts begin

RIVERKEEPER_PIC_mediumIt’s springtime and that means cleanup efforts are getting underway in various cities throughout the Great Lakes basin.

Thousands of volunteers from work to clear the shoreline of debris, not just this time of year, but all year long. Like the volunteers at the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper . The nonprofit is hosting its Spring Shoreline Sweep on April 22.

It’s an annual event and it resulted in clearing more than 11 tons of litter from shoreline areas last year.

Riverkeeper’s executive director Jill Jedlicka says volunteers find items as small as cigarette butts and sometimes larger items tires and televisions.

“Unfortunately we do find things like hypodermic needles, we do find petroleum based products sometimes,” she said. “Just a lot of what we call flotsam and jetsam, which is the stuff that gets washed off from parking lots and streets everywhere. And, it ultimately finds its way into the waterways.”

Once it enters the waterways it can have a negative effect on everything from drinking water to wildlife habitats.

“We don’t always want to be cleaning it up after the fact, we’d rather it not be there in the first place,” said Kris Patterson, executive director at Partners for Clean Streams in Ohio.

Patterson says they like to include prevention education as part of their cleanup events.

The group organizes cleanups in shoreline and other areas throughout the year. Their largest cleanup event is in September.

“We want to show people the ways we can reduce marine debris,” she said. “It’s by reducing what your using in the first place, so not always getting the plastic grocery bag can you take a reusable grocery bag.”

And, she says, it all comes down town being mindful of what we’re consuming and how we’re consuming it.