Many of us count Cape Cod’s beautiful beaches among the great loves of our life. On February 14th, Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies Beach Cleanup, the Have a Heart for Hatches Beach Cleanup, and Trash Tally might be the perfect way to send a heartfelt Valentine to the coastline.
Volunteers will walk the coastline between Herring Cove and Hatches Harbor in Provincetown, collecting debris and returning it to the Center’s Hiebert Marine Lab. Staff will tally the trash and measure and record the resulting data. Volunteers will be treated to a delicious lunch provided by Far Land Provisions. In 2022, volunteers collected 6,421 pieces of debris in two hours.
How Often Does Provincetown Center Host for Coastal Studies Beach Cleanups?
Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies Beach Cleanups occur several times a year. What began as a way to engage volunteers to pick up debris along the shoreline in Provincetown has expanded to several communities across the Cape. In 2022 The Center for Coastal Studies hosted 22 Beach Cleanups from Plymouth to Provincetown, employing their team of more than 300 volunteers known as the “Beach Brigade.” Members of the Beach Brigade donate their time to collect marine debris along Cape Cod’s 550 miles of shoreline. Information about volunteering and a calendar of events on the Center for Coastal Studies’ website lists each coastal cleanup’s date, time, and location.
What is a Trash Tally?
W. Edwards Deming, an American engineer and management consultant, once said, “In God we trust; all others bring data.” Following each of Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies Beach Cleanups, the trash is sorted and tallied. The amount and type of debris collected reveal information about the scope of trash in our community. Trash Tallies also shed light on the most effective ways to remove waste and the impact of each beach cleanup.
What Are the Top Ten Types of Debris Collected?
It is no surprise that single-use plastic ranks among the top ten items collected during Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies Beach Cleanups. Coming in second are cigarette butts. Food wrappers, foam, straws and stirrers, plastic wrap, rope, balloons, and bottle caps also top the list. These items not only detract from the coastline’s natural beauty but are also unsanitary and pose a real threat to wildlife. The Center for Coastal Studies encourages everyone to stop using single-use plastic whenever possible. Many Cape Communities have banned single-use water bottles and plastic bags to support this effort.
Marine Debris Art
Capitalizing on Provincetown’s vibrant history as a community of artists, The Center for Coastal Studies has cultivated a network of artists who repurpose marine debris and derelict fishing gear to create art. Creating artwork from discarded trash washed ashore on a beach makes a compelling statement about our collective role in stewarding our natural resources. The Center for Coastal Studies Education Department brings students to the beach to collect debris to transform into works of art. In 2022 Center collaborated with the Cape Cod National Seashore to launch a new project featuring an exhibit of marine debris as art. According to the Center’s website, the exhibit will be funded through a unique federal opportunity linking the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program in a nationwide effort to educate and inform about marine debris issues affecting national parks.
Do Beach Cleanups Work?
While reducing our use of plastic does the most to reduce our carbon footprint and eliminate marine debris, coastal cleanups remove existing debris from our shorelines and oceans. Trash collected through each of Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies Beach Cleanups takes thousands of pieces of trash away from the ocean. Beach cleanup projects remove litter from the shoreline and ensure its proper disposal. Microplastics and recyclable materials can be appropriately disposed of and recycled for future use.
Make a Valentine’s Day Date to Care for the Coastline
The Have a Heart for Hatches Harbor Beach Cleanup, and Tash Tally will take place from 9:30 – 4:00 p.m. Register here to join the Beach Brigade. What a perfect way to get outside with your valentine in February, enjoy a delicious lunch from Far Land Provisions, meet new friends, and preserve our beautiful coastline.