Connecticut – Last weekend Save the Sound’s Cleanup Captains hosted over a dozen events for International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day. On Saturday, September 16, volunteers collected and tallied over 1,000 pounds of trash across Connecticut’s rivers, parks, and beaches.
Ocean Conservancy initiated ICC Day over 35 years ago to stop plastic pollution from entering our oceans. Since 2002, Save the Sound has been Connecticut’s official host of ICC Day to help keep plastic and other trash out of Long Island Sound. The effort gained so much support in the state that Save the Sound has expanded it into a seasonal project known as the Connecticut Cleanup which runs from August through October each year, both on the coast and inland.
We are grateful for our leading sponsors, Subaru of New England, FactSet Charitable Foundation, and Barrett Outdoor Communications. We thank them, as well as our other corporate sponsors and the individual donors who keep this program alive year after year.
This year, we have 77 cleanups scheduled, and while ICC Day continues to be the most popular day for cleanups, there are plenty more to join to help us keep Connecticut clean.
ICC Day, which occurs in mid-September each year, marks the halfway point in the Connecticut Cleanup season. So far, 388 volunteers have already helped to host 30 cleanups and collect 2,680 pounds of trash. The most common types of trash this year continue to include our normal culprits: cigarette butts, food wrappers, tiny pieces of plastic and foam, and metal bottle caps. Each type presents hazards to wildlife and human health, from objects that lead to suffocation and starvation to those that leach harmful chemicals into our waterbodies.
“We also find a lot of balloons,” says Annalisa. “The Great Captain’s Island cleanup in Greenwich on ICC Day collected 54 balloons, and we are up to 117 now for the fall. GCI is an island that can only be reached by boat, so these balloons are ones that are being released, either accidentally or on purpose, and finding their way out into the Sound. Who knows how many more balloons are out there floating in the water, posing risks to aquatic wildlife.”
The litter and its associated hazards are not limited to the coast. This year we have increased the number of inland cleanups in parks and rivers to ensure everyone has safe, natural spaces to enjoy.
“The Connecticut Cleanup exposes folks to the real actions for taking care of our environment,” says cleanup intern, Andreina Barajas Novoa. “Some people don’t realize how harmful a fishing line or cigarette butt is, but after the cleanup they leave with a different mindset. I hope the Connecticut Cleanup encourages people to think about environmental justice and how we can make sustainable options more available and affordable for more people. Everyone deserves a clean and healthy lifestyle and environment.”
Over 40 cleanups are still to happen, and they will take place across the state in both inland and coastal areas. Register for those cleanups here.
Learn more about the Connecticut Cleanup on our webpage and in our first Cleanup Report which highlights trash data from 2017 through 2022. Data from this year’s cleanups will be released after the season wraps up and our team analyzes the results. Stay tuned to hear about what we are finding on the ground and in the Sound.