Litter Free, Inc. is hosting their annual city-wide cleanup of public lands on Saturday, April 30
Montessori Borealis Cleans Up Gastineau Channel
Students from one of NOAA’s Ocean Guardian Schools in Juneau, Alaska, recently rolled up their sleeves in observance of Earth Day. Children in grades 7 and 8 at Montessori Borealis completed a Youth Patrol with a local organization, Litter Free, Inc. They picked up trash on Douglas Island across from downtown Juneau.
The students joined staff from NOAA Fisheries for a walk along the coastline collecting marine debris that had washed ashore along Gastineau Channel. From soda bottles and a baby doll to a basketball and a heater, students collected around 36 pounds of trash that could have impacted the local wildlife and waterways. Items were collected in yellow bags for trash and green bags for recycling, ensuring proper disposal of the debris. The area walked was relatively small, but students still found 51 plastic bottles or food containers, 98 pieces of foam, and 74 other pieces of plastic!
The Ocean Guardian School Program is run by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. It works with schools throughout the country to promote conservation at the local level. Students engage in projects that promote the conservation of local watersheds, the ocean, and protected areas like national marine sanctuaries. Each school can adapt projects for their area to create environmentally sustainable events and programs. Learn more about the Ocean Guardian School.
Marine debris is a world-wide problem. Alaska faces unique challenges with marine debris due to its extensive and largely remote coastline. When trash is disposed improperly, it enters our waterways from the land or boats and can harm ocean wildlife and ecosystems. Marine species often become entangled in or eat debris, resulting in injury or even death. Marine debris can also spread invasive species that hitchhike from other parts of the ocean via trash. The debris that transports invasive species can be common items, like the soda bottles the Montessori Borealis students found at their cleanup. It can also be items found in our homes or larger uncommon items like abandoned boats. You can learn more about marine debris in this award-winning video developed by NOAA.
One of the best ways to address marine debris is to prevent it from entering our waterways in the first place. Education programs, like the ones implemented with the Ocean Guardian School Program, foster responsibility and sustainability from a young age. These programs help kids understand the interconnectedness of human actions to marine environments. NOAA Fisheries has coordinated the Ocean Guardian program in Juneau since 2018.
Community Cleanup in Juneau
The non-profit organization Litter Free, Inc. will be hosting their annual community clean-up event on Saturday, April 30 to collect litter from the Juneau area public spaces and the Mendenhall wetlands. With generous support from local government, other non-profits, and businesses—and the hard work of countless volunteers—more than 2 million pounds of trash have been removed from Juneau’s public spaces and wetlands during annual clean-ups since 1985.
Check out litterfree.org for more information about the annual clean-up event!