This past weekend Niagara College hosted a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) event in St. Catharines. In an effort to help the environment by cleaning up the shoreline, 27 people participated in the event on Saturday and collected bags of garbage.
GCSC is the result of a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Ocean Wise. GCSC became a national conservation initiative in 2002. Through GCSC and a program called Living Planet @ Campus, students can take part in conservation on their campus. According to the GCSC website the organization is the largest conservation clean up program in Canada.
Amber Schmucker, sustainability outreach and program coordinator, arranged the cleanup of the area around Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus on Saturday October 5, 2019. This was the second GCSC event put on through Niagara College. The first event was held in September, which focused on the Jones Beach area.
Saturday’s clean up allowed the eager volunteers to tackle three specific areas: the wetland ridge trail, the front of the campus along the ditches, creeks and ponds and the third group addressed the issue of cigarette butts thrown on the campus that filter into the water system.
“The more waste we can get off campus and out of the ecosystem here on campus, since we are basically part of the Biosphere Reserve and have significant wildlife and plants in the area, the better. We want to keep it clean. So getting as much waste as possible out of the area is our goal,” said Schmucker.
According to their website, the GCSC have had 2,550 clean ups so far and have collected 114,284 kg of litter as of 2019.
“Whether deliberately dumped or accidentally dropped, litter can have devastating consequences for wildlife. Animals mistake litter for food or become entangled in rope, string and nets. Litter can transport invasive species, or introduce dangerous toxins into an ecosystem. Plastic litter can degrade into tiny invisible pieces called microplastics, that are impossible to pick up, but have dramatic impacts on wildlife,” said Schmucker.
“For me the clean up is about giving back to society by helping to clean up the mess,” said Ankit Patel, a participant in Saturday’s clean up.
For Schmucker, these opportunities are important to students as they help citizens focus on ways they can make a connection with the environment.
“I am the happiest when I see students getting involved with their community and doing something for the environment,” said Schmucker.
Those who are interested in getting involved in their community and want to lead a clean up can find more information at www.shorelinecleanup.ca.