NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

The Great Lake Erie Boat Float

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By: Cathi Lehn, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

For the past four years, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Cleveland Metroparks have hosted the The Great Lake Erie Boat Float at Lower Edgewater State Park Beach in Cleveland, Ohio. Participants build boats out of post-consumer recyclable materials and then float (or watch them sink) in Lake Erie.

The Boat Float and its associated activities help raise awareness about the issue of plastic in our waterways, about where the trash originates, and individual actions that reduce the problem.  As awareness of the issue grows, hopefully so do the actions to confront the problem – such as beach cleanups and trash pick-ups in neighborhoods.  It is in this manner that our beaches could one day be free of trash, or free(er) of trash.

A beach cleanup follows the Boat Float each year, emphasizing one of the actions that each individual can take.  Last year, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health coordinated the beach cleanup and 27 volunteers collected 53 pounds of trash.

In 2012, the weather kept all participants out of the water but 14 crews braved the storm and exhibited their creations on the grass.  Our judges were City of Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone, EcoWatch founder and editor Stefanie Spear and our lifeguard, Jeff Mackey.

The winners were:

  • Best Use of Recyclable Materials: Grapes of Trash (all materials used for this boat were collected from the CuyahogaRiver)
  • Most Artistic Style: Swan I
  • Li’l Sailors: Junk-A-Saurus

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As in years past, we partnered with RES Polyflow, a recycler that processes the boat floats into gasoline.

The Fourth Annual Great Lake Erie Boat Float was generously sponsored by the Burning River Foundation.  Plans are currently being made for the Fifth Annual Great Lake Erie Boat Float. Stay tuned!

Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

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