To help keep the state’s beaches and waterways free of trash, volunteers are needed for Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s 35th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup, set for 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 17, at 41 sites statewide.
Volunteers must preregister by Wednesday, Aug. 31, for their choice of sites using the mobile-friendly Coastal Cleanup registration process at de.gov/coastalcleanup.
In support of Gov. John Carney's Keep DE Litter Free initiative, Delawareans and visitors are encouraged to carry out independent cleanups of neighborhoods, green spaces and waterways throughout the state all during September.
“In 2019, we launched the Keep DE Litter Free initiative with the goal of building stronger communities and working together to keep our state beautiful by keeping our coastlines and outdoor spaces clear of litter,” said Carney. “I thank our other state and local partners who plan and support the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, and I encourage all Delawareans to participate on cleanup day – and all year round.”
“DNREC encourages all Delawareans and visitors to make time to help keep our beaches, waterways and wetlands clean and free of trash throughout the year,” said Shawn M. Garvin, DNREC secretary. “The Coastal Cleanup is a great reminder that volunteers of all ages can make a difference, whether they sign up for the Sept. 17 statewide cleanup event or choose their own time, date and place to pick up trash.”
Site captains with supplies will be on site to sign in volunteers, and provide trash bags and directions. Although gloves, paper data cards and pencils will be available upon request, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own gloves and to use the online Coastal Cleanup reporting tool, when it goes live Sept. 1, to share their findings. Walkups are not encouraged due to volunteer site capacity limitations.
Participants can find ideas about how to get involved in the 2021 Delaware Coastal Cleanup on Facebook and Twitter. Volunteers in both the coordinated Sept. 17 event and the month-long campaign can post photos on Facebook for a chance to win a 2023 Delaware State Parks pass and a prize bag.
Volunteers can post photos as often as they like throughout the month, with each photo counting as one entry. All volunteers should also report their findings and are invited to share photos on the Coastal Cleanup portal. Results will be updated during the month in real time on an interactive map.
Last year, nearly 600 volunteers filled about 400 bags, cleaning up 5,500 pounds of trash from waterways, wetlands and other natural areas. The top five trash items collected were: 7,671 cigarette butts, 2,921 plastic and glass beverage bottles and cans, 1,785 food containers, 846 plastic bags and 381 balloons.
Cleaning up locally makes a big difference statewide, and keeps trash from entering waterways and making its way to beaches and beyond.
DNREC suggests several ways to help make a difference all year long:
• Be proactive by picking up trash near home
• Follow a carry-in/carry out plan and take all trash out when visiting outdoor spaces, like Delaware State Parks, DNREC wildlife areas, Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve locations, and county or local parks.
• Pack a bag and rubber gloves when going for a walk, a hike, or a hunting or fishing trip, to collect and carry out trash found along the way
• Recycle applicable items through in-home recycling or designated drop-off locations. To learn more, go to de.gov/recycling.
DNREC reminds everyone to wear gloves when picking up trash, wash hands thoroughly after cleanup activities, and follow all recent public-area protocols, including the most current COVID-19 guidance.