NICK LYPACZEWSKI
St. Thomas TIMES-JOURNAL
PORT STANLEY — A group of beachgoers were looking for trash, not a place to lay out their towels, Friday in Port Stanley.
“You’d be surprised. People come to the beaches and it’s, Oh, I love the beach, I love the beach.’ And then they litter all over it,” Aidan Grove-White, water programs manager and Blue Flag co-ordinator with Environmental Defence, said of the group’s afternoon beach cleanup.
Environmental Defence partnered with Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and the Municipality of Central Elgin to organize and run the three-hour long cleanup on the berm near Little Beach.
Volunteers used Central Elgin-supplied bags and gloves to collect trash. This was the second time the three-group partnership has organized an Ontario event. The first was a cleanup near Collingwood last week.
While this is the first time Barefoot has been involved in the area, Environmental Defence and their Blue Flag initiative have a multi-year history with the municipality. Port Stanley’s Main Beach has even been awarded the Blue Flag Award two years running, an international eco-label that recognizes exceptionally conscientious beaches and marinas as judged by over 30 criteria.
“We’ve always had a great working relationship with Central Elgin. No pun intended, they’re a bit of our beachhead here on Lake Erie,” Grove- White adds.
But awards aside, Grove-White says the most important thing is keeping the country’s beaches in good condition.
“(Bad beach conditions) are bad for humans; we don’t get to play on the beach anymore. But it’s horrible for the animals that depend on the beach for their life cycle and it also crowds all the other plants . . . they can’t grow very well,” he said.
“So by pairing up with organizations like Barefoot we hope to raise awareness that if you love the beach, you’ve got to keep it clean.”
Originally, the Facebook group calling for volunteers said the pickup was to include Little Beach itself but Wesley Kwong, brand market specialist for Barefoot Wine & Bubbly says they were pleasantly surprised at how clean the actual beach already was.
“The beach is actually quite immaculate already. So Little Beach is very clean already and we’re kind of concentrating on this (surrounding area) . . . it helps clean this area and then the debris doesn’t get onto the beach,” he said.
Some volunteers had even strayed as far as Main Beach to collect litter.