Thousands of Volunteers Clean Up Oregon’s Beaches
This year, 2016, marks the 33rd time thousands of volunteers will gather on Oregon’s beaches to give our cherished coastline a serious housecleaning with the annual SOLVE Beach & Riverside Cleanup. Volunteers can pitch in to help at 46 beach sites from Fort Stevens to Brookings, but few sites are as popular as one North Coast beach town.
“Seaside has been a very popular site every year,” says Joy Hawkins, spokeswoman for SOLVE. “We also have monthly clean ups we help support in Seaside.”
This year’s event takes place on Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. If it’s like most years, there will be some interesting finds.
“We find a lot of odd items every year, along with the typical bottles and bottle caps,” Hawkins says. “One year I had a report of a Santa statue. That was strange. Also, the Girl Scouts found $12. They were so excited. They went and got ice cream afterward. Some years, we find hundreds of toothbrushes. I have some guesses about where they come from, but I don’t know for sure. We’ve heard different theories, including that they fell off a shipping boat.”
The statewide beach cleanup began in 1984 when Oregonians Judy Hansen and Eleanor Dye took it upon themselves to do something about the litter on Oregon’s beaches. Originally dubbed the “Plague of Plastics,” that first event drew 2,100 volunteers who picked up 26 tons of litter that year alone. Since then, SOLVE volunteers have picked up approximately 1.5 million pounds of trash all across Oregon.
“In 1986, the SOLV Great Oregon Fall Beach Cleanup became part of the event it inspired, the International Coastal Cleanup, which brought together volunteers across the world, cleaning up thousands of miles of coastline in a single day,” Hawkins says. “In 2010, the Oregon event was renamed the “SOLVE Beach & Riverside Cleanup” to address the issue of inland litter and invasive weeds. It used to be just the Great Fall Clean Up on the beaches. Then we decided it was just as important to clean inland along the rivers and streams because the fall rains often wash items down streams. Eventually all of that comes out on the ocean and gets washed back on our beaches.”
The event now supports over 5,000 volunteers of all ages at 100 litter cleanup and restoration projects across the state. For more information on how you can get in on the cleanup, go to solveoregon.org.
Editor’s note: If you can’t make the September 24 event, Seaside hosts a “Treasure the Beach” cleanup on the first Saturday of every month beginning at 9 a.m.
Photo courtesy of SOLVE