Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beach Cleanups on the Great Lakes

The most common pieces of trash found on Great Lakes beaches are cigarette butts- 129,697 in 2011 alone, to be exact. Just ask the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a Chicago-based nonprofit that plays a big role in keeping Great Lakes beaches swimmer friendly. AGL works with individuals, families, and businesses to help sponsor beach cleanups in all six Great Lakes states- Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and New York. While volunteers are organized year round, this is the biggest month for the organization, with thousands of volunteers joining together for the September Adopt-A-Beach day, this year on September 17th.

According to their website, 70,000 volunteers have picked up 164 tons of debris from Great Lakes beaches since 1991- in the month of September alone. Volunteers keep track of their finds, counting and weighing everything. AGL keeps careful statistics of this information- recent data is available in an online searchable directory. Cleanups also include water testing for bacteria to determine if water is safe for swimming.

Volunteers weigh their trash bags at Montrose Beach, Chicago, IL.

Interested in adopting a beach or helping with a future cleanup? Click here to find out about opportunities to partner with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Photo courtesy of Lloyd DeGrane