With over 400-miles of accessible coastline, Rhode Island is aptly named the “Ocean State.” Sadly, many do not understand the importance of keeping our beaches clean, and leave their trash for gulls to fight over. On Saturday, Sept. 15, Save The Bay coordinated Rhode Island’s participation in the International Coastal Cleanup. Hundreds of volunteers took to Rhode Island’s beaches to remove all the trash they could find. In 2017, Save The Bay led 90 cleanups across 25 towns, collecting over 16 thousand pounds of garbage! How much will we clean this year?
I personally witnessed the cleanups at Compass Rose Beach in North Kingstown and Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett. Compass Rose is set right within the industrial park of Quonset and, as a result, can become pretty filthy very quickly. The early morning sounds of birds and the lapping of waves is lost to the trucks and heavy machinery that echo across the quiet waters.
All in all, the volunteers were able to clear roughly 45 pounds of trash from the small beach. I’ve lived in North Kingstown for 16 years and I could not be more proud of my local community members for giving their time to help keep our town in pristine condition.
When I first arrived at the beach, I kicked off my sandals and trekked down to the north end, speaking with volunteers and picking up whatever I could find along the way. The early afternoon rays of sunlight danced on the surface of the water. Soft sand eventually gave way to piles of red, rotting seaweed that I tried to avoid stepping in. But that didn’t deter several of North Smithfield’s high schoolers from diving in and searching for whatever they could find. Seaweed piles are havens for coastal insects and birds that feast on them. They are a unique ecosystem of their own.
This was my first time participating in a beach cleanup, and I will no doubt be volunteering again. If you want to help, you still have time! Head over to Save The Bay's website to sign-up for more cleanups that will be taking place over the next month. If you can’t make any of the dates, grab a bag and some gloves and take a walk along a beach of your choice. Anything you can do to help our beaches stay clean year-round is greatly appreciated not only by us at Save The Bay, but for the millions of animals that inhabit our waters.