Provincewide beach cleanup draws 3 generations of Nova Scotians

·2 min read
Kelly Wilson, their daughter, Saege, and mother, Debbie Blanche, spent their morning cleaning up trash like cigarette butts, bottles and plastics.  (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)
Kelly Wilson, their daughter, Saege, and mother, Debbie Blanche, spent their morning cleaning up trash like cigarette butts, bottles and plastics. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)

For Kelly Wilson, this Mother's Day was anything but ordinary.

Along with their nine-year-old daughter, Saege, and their mother, Debbie Blanche, they spent the day picking up trash in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax.

"We came to clean the shoreline, pick up the garbage that would otherwise harm animals and the Earth," Wilson said.

The mother, daughter and grandmother were part of a co-ordinated cleanup effort sponsored by sports store Decathlon Dartmouth and beach cleanup organization Scotian Shores.

More than 200 volunteers gave their time to pick up trash on beaches and in provincial parks across the province. All 18 counties had at least one group walking the shores with garbage bags in tow.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

Haley MacPhee, communications and marketing leader for Decathlon Dartmouth, was one of the campaign's organizers. They said the event seemed like a pipe dream during planning stages.

"It seemed a little wild to envision one cleanup per county," MacPhee said. "[But] we do have one happening in every county today, and this is part of six happening in Halifax alone."

The event organizers said the volunteers collected abundant garbage throughout the day.

MacPhee said they believe the turn out was partly because of a change in people's priorities as a result of the pandemic.

"[They] found themselves returning to a completely different lifestyle, appreciating time outside, appreciating outdoor spaces, because that's what we had access to," they said. "And so I think that that will spur a really interesting movement and a desire to keep these places clean, especially once you get out and you see what's been left behind."

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

The cleanups didn't just take place on shore. Khrista Jones is one of the scuba divers who scoured the ocean floor for trash.

"Being a scuba diver, I have such a passion for the ocean and the underwater world," Jones said. "And it's just anything we can do to help it out and make it a little bit better."

Jones collected discarded beer bottles, wine bottles and many single-use plastics, like cups and Ziploc bags.

She said she has a message for people. "It doesn't go away," she said.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

The group will be using the trash it collected to make a map of Nova Scotia that will feature the most commonly collected items from each county.

MacPhee said the hope is to make people think twice before chucking their trash.

"I'm hoping that this provincewide effort sort of sparks some attention toward the issue, that even though we do have these gorgeous natural spaces, we do have to do a really good job of keeping things out of the water."

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