STEVENSVILLE — Kent Island Beach Cleanups participated in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Sept. 21. KIBCU founder Kristin Weed said 227 people turned out to pick up trash at nine sites throughout Queen Anne’s County as part of the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to remove trash from local beaches and waterways.
KIBCU’s event is the largest ICC cleanup on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Volunteers collected 21,792 pieces of debris in just four hours, Weed said. That amounts to an estimated 3,800 pounds.
“This event enables people all over the world to ‘Fight for Trash Free Seas’ right in their own neighborhoods, tackling local issues for a global problem,” Weed said. “That problem is that there is trash everywhere, no matter where you live. Trash travels far and wide, and impacts all of us in some way.”
Local sites included Terrapin Beach Park, with site captains Tracy and Jack Wilson and LaLa Snyder; Hemingway’s Beach, with site captain Michele Jacquette Jett; Matapeake Beach, with site captains Mary Theresa and Faith McCarthy; Matapeake Fishing Pier, with site captain Anna Youngk; Romancoke Landing, with site captain Paula Tanabe; Kent Narrows Pier, with the Plastic Free QAC group serving as site captains; Old Love Point Park, with Elle Bassett and ShoreRivers as site captains; Centreville Landing, with site captain Shaun Taylor Bevins; and Ferry Point Park, with site captains Katey Nelson and Shannon Miller.
Volunteers from all over the state joined this worldwide event. Some of the groups and businesses participating here were Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland, Cult Classic Brewing Company, The Severn School, Club Scout Pack 209, Ophiuroidea “The O” Kent Narrows, Foundations Island Yoga, Eastern Shore Basketball Academy, Autobell Car Wash, members of the Church of Christ, a Hemingway’s employee on her way in to work, families and more, Weed said.
The cleanup also was assisted by KIBCU board member and interns Kaitlyn Miller, Nathaniel Bevins, Morgan Fleegle and Erika Steinbruck.
“The main things we pick up are plastic based,” Weed said.
Cigarette butts and plastic/foam pieces were found at every single location. Out of the 18,798 top items collected, 17,298 were made from a form of plastic or foam.
“You pick up what you can; you record what you can,” she said. Recording and sorting their finds helps raise awareness of the trash problem. “I really want this to be an eye-opening, learning experience. People are impacted when they see it laying all out.
Some 765 yards of fishing line was gathered, the most of it at Kent Narrows, Romancoke Pier and Matapeake Pier, but every location except Old Love Point Park had fishing line, Weed said.
Site captain Anna Youngk and volunteers at Matapeake Pier tried for 40 minutes to rescue a bird that’s feet were tangled together with fishing line, Weed said. The bird still could fly and kept jumping away from them as they tried to catch him with a cast net, and their rescue attempt was unsuccessful.
Many fireworks were collected at Ferry Point Park, likely left behind from this summer’s 4th of July celebrations.
Several dog poop bags were picked up at Matapeake Beach. There were lots of tires at Centreville Landing.
Some of the more unusual items picked up included a lottery ticket, a spark plug, shotgun shells, a perfume bottle, a shoe, glasses and three small appliances. There also were a lot of clothes found this year, Weed said.
The top three items recovered during the 2019 ICC by KIBCU teams were plastic pieces, 6,282; cigarette butts, 4,579; and foam pieces, 3,719. Glass pieces, which were number three in 2017 fell to number nine this year.
Since the first ICC over 30 years ago, more than 12 million volunteers have removed more than 220 million pounds of trash, according to the Ocean Conservancy.
Ocean Conservancy is consolidating data sent in from partner organizations around the globe and will release a report in early 2020 of the global impact of the 2019 ICC. During the 2018 ICC, more than a million volunteers worldwide removed about 23 million pounds of trash in just a day.
KIBCU’s next beach cleanup is the final one for the season. It is a dual location cleanup planned for Matapeake Beach and Matapeake Fishing Pier on Oct. 19. More volunteers and donations are always welcome. The cleanup begins at 8 a.m. and runs until noon, but volunteers don’t have to commit to the entire four hours.
KIBCU provides gloves, trash bags, rakes, trash pickers, buckets, snacks and water. Volunteers should bring their own reusable water bottle to fill. Volunteers under age 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian giving them permission to participate. All volunteers must sign a participation waiver.