© Peter Nguyen / WWF-Canada

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Lead or join a campus or community cleanup to help stop litter in its tracks

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Help stop litter in its tracks

*In light of the rapidly evolving coronavirus outbreak, please practice social distancing and follow government guidelines for gatherings and activities.*

Plastic pollution is found in every ocean — even in the Arctic. Scientists estimate by 2050, plastics will outnumber fish. Our freshwater ecosystems are also at risk. The Great Lakes have a higher density of microplastics than the oceans.

More than 80 per cent of plastic pollution originates on land. We can take action to stop plastic and other litter before it enters the water, protecting wildlife and aquatic habitats.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup began with a simple act of caring. Concerned about the impact of litter on wildlife, a group of employees from Ocean Wise, banded together to clean the shores of Stanley Park in Vancouver. Since then, more than 2 million kg of garbage has been prevented from entering rivers, lakes and oceans across Canada, helping to protect fish and frogs, sea birds and sea turtles.

More than 937,000 volunteers have cleaned 44,262 km of Canada’s freshwater and marine shorelines — the equivalent of circling the Great Lakes three times — helping make Shoreline Cleanup the country’s largest volunteer-powered conservation cleanup.

© Peter Nguyen

What you can do

Organize a small socially-distanced cleanup on campus or in your community for friends, classmates, student clubs, associations, teams or staff. Equipped with data cards, your volunteer team will contribute valuable information about the items found on Canada’s shores to international databases, helping support scientific research on marine and coastal pollution.

Cleanups can be completed solo or in small socially-distanced groups, and happen anywhere. Make it easy. Ask students to drop by for a 20-minute campus cleanup between classes or arrange an afternoon event at your local park or shoreline.

Make it your own

6 easy steps to leading a cleanup

  1. 1 Scope out a location and date

    Use the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup website at shorelinecleanup.ca to identify a date and available location in your community. Hosting a cleanup on campus? Connect with your Office of Sustainability on your idea. They can help confirm next steps to take with your Campus Facilities and Grounds staff.
  2. 2 Put your cleanup on the map

    Register your cleanup at Shorelinecleanup.ca, adding your activity to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup map. Select ‘Living Planet @ Campus’ as your group type. And notify your municipality about your off-campus cleanup – they can help you dispose of the litter and recyclables collected after your event.
  3. 3 Promote and share

    Promote and share. Create an outreach strategy that includes who to target and how to reach them. Use our posters and share your event on social. Invite student residences, clubs or varsity teams.
  4. 4 Gather supplies and data cards

    Check with your municipality or campus facilities office about the availability of bags and gloves. Print your litter data cards and refer to the Site Coordinator Guide and Supplies Checklist for tips to make your event a success.
  5. 5 Clean and track your results

    Weigh the total kilograms of litter and recyclables collected and thank everyone for their efforts.
  6. 6 Celebrate and submit results

    Tally the data cards and submit your results to your Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and your Living Planet @ Campus dashboards to contribute to citizen science.. Your results will be shared with national databases to help find solutions to shoreline litter, and will celebrate the impact you are creating for your campus community.

Why participate

Help protect wildlife

The primary threats posed by litter to wildlife are entanglement and ingestion. You can take action to keep garbage out of their habitats with easy cleanup activities.

Team building

Use your cleanup as a team building exercise for your floor, new campus club members, or intramural sports team.

Build your resume

Many organizations are interested in engaging their employees in environmental initiatives like cleanups. Leading a shoreline or campus cleanup team to success is an easy way to build your leadership skills and resume with experiences employers are looking for.

Living Planet Leader

Volunteering to lead a cleanup counts towards the Leadership and Teamwork requirements for Living Planet Leader. Whether you lead or participate in a cleanup, don’t forget to log your hours under Volunteerism.

Local and national recognition

Go Wild School Grant recipients and their projects will be recognized on WWF-Canada's national website which can be linked to your online resume.

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