Thousands of volunteers across Virginia have picked up 65,500 pounds of litter as of today as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Clean the Bay Day, Virginia’s largest and longest-running litter and shoreline cleanup. The annual event, which began in 1989, returned in full force this year after a two-year hiatus from its traditional format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Preliminary numbers show more than 3,000 volunteers gathered at nearly 200 sites across the state on foot and by boat, where they removed an estimated 65,500 pounds of litter and debris over an estimated 250 miles of shoreline and trails.
“What a success. Volunteers removed a massive amount of litter from waterways during this year’s Clean the Bay Day,” said CBF Grassroots Coordinator Lisa Renée Jennings. “When everyone joins together, we can make a really big difference for our communities, local rivers and streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.”
As usual, the most common items found during today’s cleanup were plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. But volunteers recovered many larger items, such as a recliner, cash register and a car door. Participants also recovered many unusual items from rivers and streams, including a 19th century horseshoe and a homemade drone.
The vast number of plastic bags recovered highlights the importance of measures localities can adopt, such as a disposable bag fee, which encourages shoppers to utilize reusable bags or pay a five-cent fee per plastic bag. Fees collected provide funding to cleanup existing litter, mitigate pollution, and educate the public.
Cleanups were held at scores of sites across Virginia, including Hampton Roads, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Richmond, Charlottesville, the Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. Many partner groups, including Virginia’s state parks, joined CBF within the Chesapeake Bay watershed by hosting cleanup sites.
Among the thousands of volunteers were many elected officials, other community leaders, service members, Scout groups, small businesses, large corporations, and thousands of other Virginians.
Major corporate sponsors for Clean the Bay Day include Ulliman Schutte- Alberici, the River Network, the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, and the Ball Corporation.
Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged over 161,700 volunteers, who have removed approximately 7.1 million pounds of debris from over 8,000 miles of shoreline in Virginia.
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