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.
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