By Gabriella Barthe, Staff Writer
In the wake of ocean related scandals such as trash island, the BP oil spill, and turtles found with straws stuck in their noses, many have begun flocking to the oceans in an attempt to clean the seas from debris.
UMass Dartmouth’s Leduc Center for Civic Engagement has partnered with Be the Solution to Pollution, Westport River Watershed Alliance, Button- wood Park Zoo, Buzzard’s Bay Coalition, Greater New Bedford Refuse District, Center for Coastal Studies, National Marine Wildlife Center, and Surfrider Foundation to ad- dress the realities of ocean pollution and host a shore- line cleanup this weekend titled Love Your Ocean: Saturday Sept. 29, and Sunday Sept. 30.
The first shoreline clean- up of the year lines up with National Coast Week – an initiative to show what’s really going into our waters.
The idea is to not only collect trash and recyclables from the shoreline but to gather data about what it is that was actually being picked up. In the last few years, the number of plastics being found during these events has been rising.
This year’s Love Your Ocean event will spend Saturday in a summit at the new UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) going deeper than just picking items off the shore.
Topics of discussion will include what can and can- not be recycled, how pollu- tion in the oceans affect not only wildlife but our lives, and justice issues in relation to polluted ecosystems.
Not only that but a number of movements to reduce the amount of plastics in the environment will be mentioned, and how we can tackle this issue.
“I very much care about the environment and actually sustainability issues in general” explains Deirdre Healy, Director for the Of- fice of Community Service & Partnership.
While addressing what Love Your Ocean means to her, Dierdre says “be- cause when we’re talking about the environment or the ocean, or marine life, or wild life, we aren’t just talking about just the environment. We’re talking about social justice issues, we’re talking about climate change, we’re talking about the economy.”
Love Your Ocean aims to fill in the holes in our knowledge surrounding sustainability, encouraging volunteers to learn more about the efforts they are supporting so they are further energized to do more.
Deirdre hopes that stu- dents will be able to find the energy to make a difference from this event, “It’s not just about ‘hey here’s a problem.’ There are things that can be done around the problem. I hope that people walk away with
the empowerment to feel like they can do some- thing.”
Both aspects of the event will count as hours toward the South Coast 60 Pledge – an initiative within the region to get members of the community to commit 60 hours in volunteerism.
If Love Your Ocean sounds amazing but you are unable to make it, the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement plans to do an- other shoreline clean up in the spring as well as several other community initiatives throughout the year.
More info can be found through the Leduc Center website at http://www.umassd.edu/leduccenter or by stopping into the office in person which can be found in LARTS 023.
If you’re interested in registering for events online the Leduc Center also lists all of their events on Givebacktime.org which lists community service events and volunteer experiences from a number of different organizations.
PHOTO COURTESY: LEDUC CENTER FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT