Cleaning Our Coasts with #AHOIWasteBusters, Gros Morne National Park and our Communities
Updated: Oct 19, 2022
"So far this summer AHOI has collected a total of 355.5lbs of rope which is approximately 5688 meters in length. If you're familiar with Norris Point, NL that is enough rope to stretch from the Jenniex House to the Waterfront and back - with some rope to spare!"
Hey guys, this is Emily and Aaron, and we are #AHOIWasteBusters!
We are spending the majority of our summer doing beach audits along coastlines within Gros Morne National Park and adjacent communities. Between May 8th and August 9th we have conducted 15 quadrant sample audits, and 5 community beach cleanup audits.
Our work is apart of a larger partnership between Parks Canada and Gros Morne Cooperating Association (GMCA) to lessen the impact of plastic waste in the region, in and around the national park and in adjacent communities.
Overall we have cleaned a total of 9440 meters of coastline and collected a whopping 1864 lbs of waste so far - that's equivalent to two moose!
Most people know what a beach cleanup is, but if you're wondering what a beach audit is, don't worry - you're not the only one. An audit, while like a beach cleanup, has some distinct differences. Mainly, audits require us to sort through everything we collect, separate it all into different piles, and count and record every piece of waste we find (check out the charts & images below for a breakdown of the trash collected).
Audits that take place at various areas around the region are referred to as quadrant samples. At these quadrants we collect waste in the given area for a specific time: half an hour. The amount of coastline that actually gets cleaned depends on how dirty the area is. Having a time limit helps keep the baseline data for each quadrant sample the same. Creating a good baseline of data will allow us to compare data in the coming years, and see if anything has changed.
The data we collect provides us with lots of valuable, useful information: it shows us what the main types of waste are, who is generating them, and where they may be coming from. This helps us determine what we can do to reduce the amount of waste making its way onto our shores.
With the BonTours passenger ferry operating since early July, we have been able to access the south side of Bonne Bay more easily. Being able to clean and audit both sides more efficiently is really contributing to our goal of collecting one tonne or 2,000 lbs of garbage from the region this summer.
Sometimes we have friends to lend us a hand when auditing, and other times we tackle the coastlines ourselves. So far this summer 170 volunteers have come out to help us! Some have even provided boat rides to get us to hard-to-reach, isolated areas.
Some of the most common items found are shotgun shells (3583) and food packaging (3488). A large majority of the shotgun shells we find along the coastline come from other areas of the island and end up on our shores because of the ocean currents. The food packing is comprised of everything from candy bar wrappers to Styrofoam takeout containers.
While we count most objects, some things are too difficult to count individually, like rope and microplastics, so we weigh them to track how much we have collected. So far this summer we have collected a total of 355.5lbs of rope which is approximately 5688 meters in length - that's enough rope to stretch the length of 406 humpback whales!
Microplastics are a bit more tricky to analyze as they are so small. Microplastics by definition are fragments of any type of plastics less than 5mm in length. However, for the purposes of our research and auditing, and since we do not have the ability to sort and dissect such small pieces of plastic, we classify microplastics as less than 2.5cm in size. By finding an average weight of plastics less than 2.5cm in size we were able to find out approximately how many small pieces we have collected this summer, our total right now is 6921 pieces = 25lbs!
We also conduct a brand audit to see which large corporations are contributing the most waste. The brand we find the most - by a long shot - is PepsiCo. At 41% they contribute to almost half of the waste we find as they are the parent brand to companies like Lays and Gatorade.
With a couple weeks left before we head back to school we are going to continue cleaning our coastlines, growing these numbers and making the ocean just a little bit better. We have one community cleanup left which is scheduled for August 22 in Woody Point. Find out more about it on our Facebook and Instagram, and keep checking our website for upcoming events.
And if you ever see us out, come say hello and ask some questions - we may even give you a bag and put you to work cleaning our coastlines!
For now, we'll leave you with this video of us conducting an audit with help from our friends at Parks Canada.
Hope to see you around!
Emily & Aaron,