International Cleanup Day–September 19

Have you heard of the Pacific Trash Vortex or the Trash Gyre? It’s an area in the Northern Pacific Ocean where the current turns in a clockwise spiral and a tremendous amount of floating garbage eventually ends up there, spinning in a de facto pollutiondump about the size of the state of Texas. Plastic ain’t going anywhere any time soon, and it might break down to the plastic pellets that outnumber natural plankton in this region 6:1, but it has to end somewhere. This naturally-occurring trash magnet keeps much of it off our beaches—if it did was ashore—if we were stepping over more soda bottles than seashells, we’d be far more horrified at what we’ve done to the ocean environment and perhaps take more appropriate action.

Plastic Shards and Cigarette Butts…it’s a dangerous diet for dolphins, sea turtles, whales, pelicans, and every other ocean-going creature. PADI Divers have teamed with Project AWARE (Divers Conserving Underwater Environments) for the International Ocean Cleanup on September 19. The world’s oceans are fast becoming a toxic and dangerous trash can for marine life. It will be the largest assembly of divers and volunteers in a global clean up effort. “Even trash in Kentucky eventually washes out to the sea,” says Jenny Miller Garmendia, Director of Project AWARE Foundation (PAF), “The challenge around the world is getting people to make the connection that even if you live far from the sea your litter can end up in the ocean.”

Last year, volunteers from 110 countries participated in Project AWARE’s International Cleanup Day. You don’t have to don scuba gear to take part. Besides picking up a lot a trash from shorelines and underwater, a major component of International Cleanup Day is also collecting data. A big part of the debris finding its way into our oceans is made of plastic, as much as 80%-90%. Often a dead bird or fish is found with a stomach filled with plastic bits and cigarette butts. It’s estimated that about 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown away each year, and many of these find their way into the earth’s waterways, oceans, and into the bellies of fish and birds. Data collected by divers during International Cleanup Day is reported in the Ocean Conservancy’sMarine Debris Index and tallied by volunteers worldwide.

To find out how to participate in International Cleanup Day, in the water or on the shore, visit or call toll-free 1-866-80-AWARE for the US and Canada.

5 responses to this post.

  1. I’m so glad someone is doing something about this! I heard about this for the first time this year- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and wanted to do something to raise awareness on this horrific situation.
    Thank you!!! I will be getting involved.


  2. Posted by Andi on September 17, 2009 at 6:16 AM

    and you can even win prizes by creating some art out of the waste you collect…check: fore more…


  3. Similar clean ups are also going on in other parts of the world. For instance, the company I work for. Simply Diving. Based in Spain Costa del Sol are doing our own clean up in Gibraltar on an artificial reef project. Every diver who cares about the underwater world should get involved where ever they can and show there support to Project AWARE


  4. Barbados is joining in with the first annual Clean Up Barbados Day on September 2009. All Barbadians can visit the website to see how they can be involved.


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