Monday, June 19, 2017

An Introduction to the Warwick Summer Cleanup Series

By Phoebe Finn, communications intern

Save The Bay has officially launched the 2017 Warwick Summer Cleanup Series. Through this program, we hope to remove marine debris from four beaches in Warwick over a twelve-week period and start a conversation about littering in the town. We expect that our partnership with the Town of Warwick and its local leadership will make a valuable impact on littering and control the problem in the future.

Cleaning our beaches is the first step towards reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean. According to the Ocean Conservancy, a global environmental advocacy group, there are currently 8 million metric tons of trash are going into the ocean every year. This has begun to impact local communities as 25 percent of fish at seafood markets around the world have plastic in them. So how much plastic do we Rhode Islanders want to ingest when we enjoy our favorite seafood? Here at Save The Bay, we vote none!

Our local efforts have the ability to help communities around the world keep trash out of the oceans, our backyards and even our stomachs. Last Thursday 21 local volunteers of all ages picked up 65 pounds of marine debris at Rocky Point State Park, the first beach cleanup of the Warwick Summer Cleanup Series. The fantastic turnout included local residents who were trying to get involved in the community and employees from Moo, a Providence-based printing company. It was extremely encouraging to see so many fresh faces at the first cleanup, and hopefully it was an indication of participation for the rest of the summer. The volunteers had positive attitudes towards the program and keeping Warwick beaches clean.

In addition to physically removing the trash, we also have to start a meaningful conversation about littering in the community. We are excited to balance regular cleanups with community outreach and anti-littering messaging to see what the most effective combination will be. Once we figure out the best way to reduce marine litter, spread awareness and get the Town of Warwick involved, this program can be used as a model for the rest of Rhode Island.

We chose to launch this program in the Town of Warwick because it has the most miles of coastline of any other town in Rhode Island. Residents want to enjoy the beautiful beaches and the local economy relies on a healthy ocean. Save The Bay is excited to facilitate this ongoing environmental conversation about marine debris in Narragansett Bay and the oceans beyond it.