By Laura McMillan
Director of Communications,
Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound
The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is an initiative that was launched more than 30 years ago by the Ocean Conservancy. Save the Sound (a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment) has been the Connecticut coordinator since 2002. Since then, ICC weekend has grown from 18 to 42 cleanup events, and volunteers tirelessly cleaned over 500 beaches! In 2019, Save the Sound partnered with Subaru of New England to make an even larger impact.
“Subaru of New England is much more than a car company,” said Stanley Lewicki, Subaru of New England’s Vice President of Marketing. “We decided to join the ICC last year to make a difference locally and to raise awareness because we believe in making the world a better place by showing love and respect to all people and animals.”
To celebrate, we’re looking back at where we started and giving you a glimpse of where we’re going. In our first year as the Connecticut coordinator, volunteers cleaned 18 beaches over just one weekend. This year you came out to clean an astounding 42 beaches in one weekend! Your clean beach and river movement is growing, and we have you to thank for it. In 2018 there were a total of 50 cleanups in Connecticut throughout the season, and in just one year that number grew to 73 cleanups in 2019!
Not only is the number of cleanups growing every year, but the types of cleanups are becoming more diverse as well. Last year, you came out to clean your waters on paddleboards and boats. You even dove under the water for Scuba cleanups to get to the trash no one can see!
Our partnership with Subaru of New England has allowed us to reach new people and clean more beaches, and it’s Long Island Sound that saw the benefits. Thanks to them and your continued support, we’re accomplishing some big things. You’re bringing multiple generations together, united by a love of clean coasts and a desire to make a difference. But don’t take it from us; hear what our volunteers have to say:
“More and more students of the University [of New Haven] are beginning to recognize their impact in the environment,” said ICC cleanup captain Matthew Fleischer. “It’s been very inspiring to see so many students taking initiative to reach out and make a difference.”
“It’s vital to cleanup whenever and wherever we can,” said ICC volunteer Caitlin DiBona. “Beginning a cleanup with our beaches and waterways is creating a safer environment for our animals in their natural habitat, as well as setting an example for proper waste disposal and recycling moving forward.”
With the help of Subaru of New England and your support, we’re going to keep growing. We’re going to bring a love of clean riverbanks, marshes, and beaches to more people and remove more trash until you can go to the beach and swim in water, not plastics. As we grow stronger together, CFE/Save the Sound is looking forward to the day that we’ll all celebrate the end of coastal cleanups because there won’t be any trash left to clean. ■
This article originally appeared in the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound’s quarterly GreenSheet/SoundBites newsletter and is reprinted with permission. Each issue of GreenSheet/SoundBites showcases local environmental victories that your support makes possible, and highlights pressing challenges your support has the power to help solve. To learn more, log onto ctenvironment.org.