Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Shoreline cleanup team with garbage bags full of trash
This year, the group filled up 8.5 trash bags, and 7.5 recycle bags that weighted 36kg in total. Some of the major items found included: 44 food wrappers, 38 cigarette butts, 127 beverage bottles, 68 beverage cans, 30 paper cups and plates, and 16 items of clothing!

Every year, Sustainability Ambassadors participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. This initiative is presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, and a conservation and cleanup initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), and is one of the largest environmental community engagement programs in Canada. Community members are encouraged to get involved with water quality and conservation issues in their communities. Shoreline litter is a serious issue, and since the beginning of this initiative approximately 1.1 million kilograms of litter has been removed across Canadian waterways.

Dangers of Shoreline Litter

Canadians have the opportunity to support the health of our Canadian ecosystems by removing and preventing shoreline litter as many of our marine and freshwater species are affected by the waste. Twelve percent of Canada’s surface is covered by water – in the form of lakes, rivers and streams. Canada’s coastline is 243,000 km– the longest coastline in the world. Shoreline litter is a  large threat to our Canadian waters, including lakes, rivers, estuaries, oceans and other courses. Most  of the litter found along our water ways is from land based activities. In 2012, approximately 91 percent of the debris removed came from smoking and recreational shoreline activities.

  • Organisms often attach to litter as it flows through water systems, causing invasive species to infiltrate foreign habitats and damage the sensitive balance of the ecosystem.
  • Aquatic and terrestrial species can become entangled in litter (six-pack rings, plastic bags, ribbon, food wrappers etc.). This can severely restrict their movements, can lead to injury and sometimes drowning, suffocation or starvation.
  • Marine animals such as sea turtles can mistake plastic material for jellyfish and swallow them, which leads to their digestive tracts clogging. Further, this can lead to starvation and sometimes death.
  • Our Canadian water quality can be affected negatively by the toxins emitted from the litter, whether the garbage is from hazardous or non-hazardous sources.
  • Wildlife can mistake waste for natural material used for building nests and shelters
  • Broken glass, cans, metals, syringes or other sharp objects can pose a safety threat to shoreline visitors