Every year the Ocean Conservancy holds its “International Coastal Cleanup,” encouraging us all to spend a day to clean up our coastlines. On September 20, 2008 the SC Sea Grant Consortium and the SC Department of Natural Resources sponsored the 20th annual Beach Sweep/River Sweep in South Carolina. Last year nearly 6,000 dedicated volunteers showed up to pick up litter and trash along South Carolina’s beaches, rivers, marshes, and creeks. 57-tons of debris, covering 1,345 miles of environmentally sensitive areas were removed during last year’s event. Throughout Beach Sweep/River Sweep’s 19 year history, 942.5 tons of litter have been collected and recycled when possible.
This year Charleston Waterkeeper helped coordinate the Folly Beach cleanup effort. With almost 300 volunteers from across the state (and country) we had everyone from school teachers, to students, boy scouts and girl scouts, and local celebrities. Volunteers swept from the Folly Beach County Park to the lighthouse-end of the island. The top three “culprits” found were cigarettes (3,258), bottle caps/lids (803), and food wrappers (510). Other peculiar items found include: fireworks, cloth flower petals, dog poop in plastic bags, a half of a telephone pole, a 55-gallon drum, lawn chairs, tent stakes, an acrylic fingernail, a horseshoe, 15 diapers, parts of a surfboard, a bilge pump, and underwear. A breakdown of the top eleven objects found on Folly Beach can be seen in the chart below.
Volunteers braved high winds and chilly temperatures during this year’s event. We even had vacationers and passing walkers join in on the cleanup efforts once they saw all the participants cleaning up the beach. Thank you to everyone who took part in Beach Sweep/River Sweep 2008, especially those who came out to Folly Beach and the other sites in Charleston! We couldn’t have had such a great success without you. We hope to see you all next year.
I will leave you with a Gandhi quote that was truly put into practice by all of the selfless volunteers that came out to help during this year’s Beach Sweep…