- story by Karen Fineran
On the morning of Saturday, October 17, rain or shine, hundreds of volunteers will fan out along south Mississippi for the 27th annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, part of an annual international coastal cleanup that is conducted each fall on beaches and islands throughout the world.
This year is the 30th anniversary of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment. (Last year, nearly 650,000 volunteers from 91 countries participated in this global cleanup effort and picked up more than 12 million pounds of trash in a single day.)
Beach to Bayou
In Mississippi last year, more than 3,000 volunteers collected more than 60 tons of trash during the annual cleanup. Any land that borders the water — the Mississippi Sound, the bay, bayous, or canals — will be included in the cleanup. Boaters are encouraged to get out to the barrier islands (Cat Island, East Ship Island, Horn Island, Petit Bois Island and Sand Island) and comb those beaches as well.
Marine debris includes cigarette butts, toys, single-use cups and bottles, fishing line, and lots of other types of garbage. Anything man-made, including litter and fishing gear, can become marine debris once lost or thrown into the marine environment. The most common materials that make up marine debris are plastics, glass, metal, paper, cloth, rubber, and wood. If they are on the beaches and coastlines, then they very likely will end up in our oceans.
Hancock County has participated in the global event for the last 26 years. Eighteen of the Mississippi cleanup sites are located in Hancock County, including McLeod State Park, Jourdan River Shores, Garden Isles, Diamondhead Yacht Club, Buccaneer State Park, Bayou LaCroix, Bayou Cadet, Lakeshore and Clermont harbors, the Depot District, and seven different sites along Beach Boulevard in Waveland and Bay St. Louis.
Last year, more than 300 Hancock County volunteers took part in the local cleanup effort, organized by the Hancock Chamber of Commerce. Nearly two tons of debris were pulled from county shores and waters, and 187 bags of garbage were collected. This year, Hancock County’s Coastal Cleanup is being coordinated by the Mississippi State University (MSU) Hancock County Extension Office.
Our coastal and marine resources matter, especially in Hancock County. While this county represents only a small geographic area of the state of Mississippi, we have a big front yard. What happens in the Gulf of Mexico has a significant impact on Mississippi and the entire Gulf region. Our annual coastal cleanup is a reminder that we can make a difference in keeping our shorelines clean and litter-free — one cigarette butt, scrap of fishing line or discarded plastic bag at a time.
Are you ready to take action? Join us on October 17th for the 27th annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup (and be part of the 30th anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup)! The event in Mississippi will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and there will be a cookout lunch provided for Hancock County volunteers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., sponsored by the office of Congressman Steven Palazzo and the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club.
Please visit www.mscoastalcleanup.org for a complete list of cleanup sites and to register online or print a registration form, which you can bring with you on cleanup day and turn in at your selected site. Children are welcome and encouraged to participate in the cleanup but must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Bring work gloves, drinking water, sunscreen and a hat, closed toe shoes, and a bucket or bag to collect debris. See you there!