By: Joy Irby, Guest blogger
Oregon beaches are ready for summer after shedding close to 24 tons of marine debris in March. Over 4,800 volunteers helped clear the entire Oregon coast of trash at the annual SOLVE Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup. Approximately 48,165 pounds of debris was removed, including 14 tires.
An Oregon tradition for 30 years, the twice-annual coast wide beach cleanups have seen nearly 225,000 Oregon volunteers remove an estimated 2.8 million pounds of trash from the coast since 1984. Dedicated volunteer coordinators lead thousands of participants across 47 cleanup sites statewide, including several Oregon Parks and Recreation Department staff and members of the Surfrider Foundation.
The most common items found were cigarette butts, fishing ropes, and plastic bottles. Interesting items found by volunteers included telephone poles, the remains of a sunken crab vessel, large semi-truck tires, and a 200 pound block of Styrofoam.
While debris from Japan was a rare find this year, SOLVE once again worked with over 60 volunteers from Portland Shokookai and the Japan-America Society of Oregon, a partnership that has been indispensable in the years following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
“So many Oregonians have a deep bond with our Japanese friends whose lives and livelihoods were so affected by the tragic disasters of March 11, 2011. By coming together for the beach cleanup, we now have a framework of committed volunteers from many Japan-related organizations in our community who support efforts along our Oregon beaches now and in the future,” said Dixie McKeel, Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Oregon.
Due to shared ocean currents, marine debris impacts coastlines across the North Pacific Ocean, washing up on both the shores of Japan and the West Coast of the United States. “The beach cleanup is a wonderful opportunity to work together and promote mutual understanding and friendship between our two countries,” added McKeel.
Joy Irby, is the program coordinator at SOLVE, a non-profit organization that brings together Oregonians to improve the environment and to build a legacy of stewardship.