- Take Action
- Learn More
- Sources of Shoreline Litter
- Impacts of Shoreline Litter
- Educational Activities
- Other Resources
In addition to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, there are many other ways that you can help protect our local shorelines year round. Here are ten easy ways to prevent and reduce shoreline litter:
Get hands on
Participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup! Each September, cleanup events are organized in every province and territory. Choose the role that suits your schedule and flexibility, whether it’s as a Site Coordinator or a cleanup participant. To learn more about these roles, visit our Get Involved page.
If you know someone in a different region who also wants to take action, why not challenge them to organize or join a cleanup? Then see which cleanup group collects the most garbage from their shoreline.
Are you currently outside of Canada, but still want to do your part for the environment? Many cities, particularly along the west coast of North America, run shoreline cleanup programs throughout the year. Search online for the closest one near you.
Retrieve all your fishing lines and nets
Fishing lines or nets left in or near the water can entangle and even kill animals that come into contact with them. Remove other people’s fishing lines and nets that you find, but be careful not to pull snagged lines that may be caught on aquatic life, the shoreline, or something else below the surface. Some municipalities also have bins at the dock for discarding fishing line and nets.
Put litter in its placeThe majority of shoreline litter originates from man-made activities on land. Rain and wind can cause litter to travel into our storm sewers, creeks, and rivers, where it ultimately ends up in the ocean. Whether you’re hanging out on the beach or walking down the street, properly disposing of litter prevents it from being carried into a body of water. Whenever possible, look for lidded trash containers.
To discover where most of the shoreline litter found in Canada originates from, check out our Facts & Figures and Sources of Shoreline Litter pages.
Properly dispose of cigarette buttsCigarette butts are the most common type of litter across the globe. When discarded, the harmful chemicals and toxins they contain can leach into the environment and even kill the animals that mistakenly ingest them. If you smoke outside, particularly on beaches, take along a portable ashtray or a small container that can hold your cigarette butts until you can dispose of them properly. This is a small action that can have a huge impact over time.
To learn more about cigarette litter, visit the CVW Cigarette Litter website.
Recycle everything you canDid you know that, in addition to the usual items, you can also recycle keys, motor oil, oil filters, batteries, electronics, and many packaging materials? Check with your local municipality and environmental organizations regularly to find out what can be recycled in your community, and where.
Re-use, re-use, re-useFrom reusable bags and coffee mugs, to library books and cloth napkins, there are countless reusable alternatives to single-use items. For example, at your next barbeque, swap the plastic forks and paper plates for reusable food containers and cutlery. Not only will you avoid using disposable items, but you’ll save money while adding a special touch to the meal.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasureInstead of throwing away unwanted items, look for ways to donate or sell them. Local non-profit groups are almost always in need of old toys, clothing, furniture, and other household goods. Or, sign up with a local consignment shop or an online community that offers free classifieds.
Use green alternatives for household and garden chemicalsEvery day, many North Americans use household cleaning products, garden chemicals, and pesticides containing hazardous ingredients that are toxic to us and our environment. When ingested, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled, they can cause immediate illnesses as well as health problems that appear many years later.
For the health of our environment and ourselves, do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that can wash into open waters. Also, make sure to dispose of hazardous materials properly. Everyday items such as household cleaning products, paint, pesticides, fluorescent light bulbs, and batteries pose a serious threat to water quality for all living things.
For example, all you need to make your own safe and inexpensive household cleaner is a simple mixture of lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda. For more details on other healthy, cost-effective substitutes, read the Guide to Less Toxic Products or take a look at this pamphlet on Safe Alternatives produced by the Sierra Club.
Make your mark on storm drains
Storm drains on our roadways empty directly into local streams. Consequently, the things we dump here eventually end up in our water bodies, with potentially harmful consequences. Mark local storms drains in your community with a fish stencil to remind people that their actions have consequences. Visit the Storm Drain Marking Program from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to find out how you can get involved.
Less is more, especially when it comes to packagingMuch of what we buy eventually ends up in our landfills, where it collects and sits over long periods of time. When you make a purchase, choose items that use less packaging and which are reusable whenever possible. Not only will you save money, but you’ll be directly helping the environment.