Volunteers clean up at Thornbury waterfront

·3 min read

A McDonald’s coffee cup from the '80s. A Coca-Cola Classic can. A twist off, stubby soda-pop bottle. And lots of cigarette butts; more than can be counted.

Those are just a few of the wide variety of garbage, plastic and other debris volunteers from Georgian Bay Forever have found in local waters during their clean-up days this summer.

Perhaps the most head-scratching was a plastic shopping bag, practically still usable, from Valley Foods in Collingwood. Some historical research revealed that Valley Foods was once located many years ago in the building that is now Giant Tiger.

“It’s wild, the things we find,” said Ashley Morrison, Project Manager for Collingwood Divert and Capture: The fight to keep microplastics out of the water, “it shows that stuff doesn’t break down.”

The small team from Georgian Bay Forever keeps a collection of the interesting pieces of debris and garbage they have found during their clean up days.

The crew was at Thornbury Little River Park on Monday, July 25 co-ordinating a volunteer clean up day of the shoreline area. Two more clean up days are coming up in Thornbury on August 8 and 22 from 1 - 3 p.m.

The group is also in Wasaga Beach at Beach 3 every Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and in Collingwood at Sunset Point every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers are always welcome to participate, assist in clean up efforts and learn more.

While in Thornbury, the crew checked a Seabin located at F Dock. They removed the debris collected in the bin, characterized what was found and recorded the results for their data collection efforts.

“There are little bits of microplastics that are hidden in the vegetation,” said Morrison.

While speaking to a reporter from CollingwoodToday.ca, one local volunteer approached the Georgian Bay Forever tent carrying a large piece of steel rebar that was found in the water not far from where children were playing and swimming.

Morrison explained that Georgian Bay Forever is seeking volunteers to have a microfibre filter installed on their home washing machine. They’re hoping to reach a total of 300 filters in homes that will provide them a solid amount of data about the effectiveness of the filters.

Any local residents are welcome to volunteer for the project, as long as they are in their house full-time.

The filters collect all the lint and debris that is shaken loose during a laundry cycle. Every few months, Georgian Bay Forever collects the material, has it weighed and sends it away to be analyzed for plastic content.

“It helps to add to our data and the end goal is to help drive policy change,” said Morrison.

Eventually, the filters could be installed in all washing machines at the manufacturers level.

“We’re a small group of people who work for this charity, but we do a lot of different projects,” Morrison said.

Georgian Bay Forever’s Emma Christensen is hosting a microfibre workshop at the Collingwood Public Library on August 4 from 1 - 3 p.m. and she promised that the highlight of the day would when she teaches the group how to turn an old tee-shirt into a tote bag using just scissors. Anybody interested in registering can do so at: plastics@gbf.org

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca

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