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Earth week beach cleanup promotes personal wellness
Friday, April 16, 2010

To see the full schedule of Earth Week activities, please visit the 2010 Earth Week Calendar of Events.

In the spirit of the earth week festivities occurring both on and off campus, an earth week-inspired beach cleanup will take place at Point Gratiot Beach in Dunkirk. The cleanup will take place on Sunday, April 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

During the 24th Annual International Coastal Cleanup in September 2009, 45 volunteers removed nearly 400 pounds of garbage from Point Gratiot. Among the debris were 430 degrading plastic and Styrofoam pieces, an array of personal hygiene products such as tampons and syringes, and a plethora of smoking-related garbage such as 331 cigarette filters. While these trash items may be an unsightly mess, they pose little threat in comparison to the hundreds of nurdles that were recovered.

Nurdles are potentially carcinogenic lentil-shaped bits of plastic waste that pollute Lake Erie and other bodies of water. Confusing it for food, marine wildlife consume the unsafe plastic, and then humans, in turn, consume the fish. This allows the toxins to enter our bodies and presents a serious health risk.

“Have you ever wondered what happens to these little bits of trash?” asks Dr. Sherri Mason, SUNY Fredonia’s 2010 Earth Week Coordinator. “They get carried by wind and water into our lakes, streams, and rivers, which all eventually flow into our oceans. Along the way they may break down into smaller pieces or they may get eaten by an animal. Either way, the chemical constituents within this trash are leached into our environment, into our waterways, into the very lifeblood of our world. And it has an impact.”

More than 80% of freshwater in the USA comes from the Great Lakes region, including Lake Erie. It is important to have volunteers for this event in order to protect our waterways and landscape so that everyone can continue to enjoy them. With this cleanup event, we can collect some form of reassurance that we are doing our part to protect the one thing that rightfully belongs to us and what will continue to thrive, if we permit it: the environment.

The cleanup is open to the general public and all volunteers are encouraged to join. All volunteers will be provided with gloves and garbage bags, and are asked to meet in the parking lot of Point Gratiot at 2 p.m. for a brief orientation.

The beach cleanup is sponsored by EarthWorks, an environmental action group of the UUCNC; the students of “Writing, Sustainability, and Social Change”; and SUNY Fredonia’s Academic Community Engagement Center (FACE) and Sustainability Committee.

 

 

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