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Locals to volunteer in national shoreline cleanup day

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is recruiting numerous volunteers to lead and participate in this year’s week-long crack down on the waste along Canada’s shorelines.

“We consider a shoreline to be anywhere land meets water,” said project manager Jill Dwyer. “A shoreline can be along a lake, river or stream and we have cleanups happening in every province and territory across Canada.”

Though garbage cleanups are occasionally undertaken by schools and various other institutions, Starting today (Saturday), there will be many more scouring the shores of Waterloo Region’s rivers, lakes and creeks during a week of nation-wide volunteerism.

Local locations will include Paradise Lake in Wellesley Township, as well as various locations in the region including Waterloo Park and trails along the Grand River watershed.

In its nineteenth year, the program continues to depend heavily on local involvement from volunteers.

“We rely on people in the communities to get out and clean up their local shorelines. We have a lot of tools on our website that help the site coordinator organize their cleanup,” Dwyer said.

One such volunteer is coming back for a second year, coordinating a cleanup at Silver Lake in Waterloo Park. Anum Syeda completed a volunteer placement with Waterloo’s Environment & Parks Services Department in 2010, and learned about the myriad of resources available for volunteers undertaking a cleanup such as recycling bags, gloves and area maps provided by the department.

“I realized that in order to make a difference in the community, being proactive would be necessary,” she said of her choice to join the cleanup a second time.

“I hope that we will be able to inspire others to keep our parks safe and clean. With cleanups, it’s easy to feel apathetic because litter always creeps back, but the important lesson is the overall picture: realizing that, you, as one person can pick up one thing and avoid hurting someone else” she added.

The endeavour was first put forth by a number of employees and volunteers at the Vancouver Aquarium who decided to clean up a Stanley Park beach in Vancouver in 1994. Three years later, 400 volunteers were cleaning 20 sites across British Columbia. The event grew into the Great BC Shoreline Cleanup, eventually becoming an official national program in 2002.

Volunteers wishing to sign up as site coordinators can, register online at www.shorelinecleanup.ca. An interactive map can help volunteers find a location which they wish to coordinate or help general volunteers find a site coordinated by someone else. Coordinators are then responsible for setting up times and running the operation.

Last year’s cleanup resulted in 3,144 km of distance cleared of waste equivalent to143,737 kg of litter removed from shorelines. Volunteers are asked to catalogue data on their cleanup including their collection of top litter items such as cigarette wrappers, food wrappers, plastic bags, lids and plastic bottles. The data with then be added to statistics on the website.

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