Organizers are looking for volunteers to help clean beaches along Washington's coast. This year’s Washington Coast Cleanup is set for April 23.
Participants will help remove marine debris, human trash and other items from nearly 40 beaches, ranging from Hoebuck Beach near Neah Bay to Cape Disappointment.
Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers helped take about 24 tons of debris from the state’s coastline.
The annual cleanup began in 2000 as a series of separate beach cleanups held every April in celebration of Earth Day. Since then, almost 8,250 volunteers have taken part, removing about 277 tons of marine trash, said David Lindau, program coordinator for the Washington Clean Coast Alliance. The alliance has organized the event since the coalition of organizations was created in 2007.
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The alliance includes the Clallam Bay-Sekiu Lions Club, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
In putting the volunteer effort in perspective, Lindau estimates people have donated 41,230 hours of their time during the first 11 cleanups. Using the dollar value of volunteer hours tracked nationally by the Independent Sector, Lindau said the value of that time is more than $783,000.
As for the amount of debris taken off beaches, the 277 tons is the equivalent of more than 10.5 million 20-ounce plastic water bottles. While volunteers actually find plenty of water bottles, they find much more. There are crab pot floats, pieces of rope, tires, chunks of Styrofoam, plastic caps from fireworks, carpeting, food wrappers, flip flops, beach toys, pop cans and more.
“Countless marine organisms have been saved and our beaches are cleaner, healthier places for everyone,” Lindau said of the results of the cleanups.