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Your own shoreline cleanup is just a stone's throw away


Published: 09/21/2015

by Marcus Johnson

Information, including how to be a site coordinator, is available online at

Canada is home to one-fifth of the world's fresh water, with thousands of interconnected lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands to nourish and sustain us. No matter where we live, we are just a stone's throw away from a watershed.

Did you know, however, that the health of our freshwater habitats is in danger? According to WWF-Canada's Freshwater Program, pollution is one of the most significant threats to our rivers, but we can help reduce plastic and micro-plastic pollution through shoreline cleanups.

In 2014, almost 67 per cent of all litter collected was from shorelines bordering on freshwater habitats, an important statistic delivered by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Hundreds of streams, creeks and rivers crisscross Saskatchewan ending in lakes and reservoirs — making up 29 watersheds and 10 major water basins. Last year 807 Saskatchewanians removed nearly 1,000 kilograms of litter from along lakes, rivers, creeks and streams, with the majority of litter originating from single-use food and beverage items (34 per cent), smoking related activities (27 per cent) and “tiny trash” (33 per cent). “Tiny trash” is unidentifiable litter pieces smaller than 2.5 centimetres and made out of plastic, glass or foam.

“Shoreline litter can have widespread impacts on freshwater species like fish and turtles through ingestion and entanglement,” says Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. “This litter is a result of human actions, so it's up to us to do something.”

Even though shoreline cleanups typically last just a couple hours each, altogether the 33 Saskatchewan cleanups in 2014 collected more than 22,000 pieces of litter , including a plastic skull, fireworks, paintballs, a sofa chair, an oil tank and a toy bowling ball.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is looking for people to champion their own local shoreline by registering to be a site coordinator at “Site coordinators are key to our program,” Le Souef points out. “They organize the event at any location they choose at any time that works for them – and they help us by documenting what they find.”

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