Trash in our oceans and waterways is one of our planet's greatest, and most preventable, pollution problems. Millions of pounds of disintegrating marine debris was first discovered more than 10 years ago, floating in the Pacific Ocean.
The discovery of what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch provided a startling wake-up call to the problem of floating marine debris.
Since then, trash has been found in every ocean on the planet, as well as in rivers and lakes across the nation. And with the BP oil spill disaster looming in our national consciousness, the health of our country's waterways has become even more paramount.
But the good news is, there is something we all can do about it.
"Each one of us can get out there and help clean up our coastlines," says Gabrielle Reece, a professional beach volleyball player and wife of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton.
This Saturday, Reece will be hitting her local beach with her and Hamilton's two daughters to clean up the coastline. It's all part of the 25th annual International Coastal Cleanup.
Taking place on Sept. 25, the event is the world's largest volunteer effort to help protect the ocean. Last year, 500,000 volunteers joined their communities to clean up local beaches, lakes and rivers with a common mission of improving the health of the ocean and waterways.
On one day, volunteers removed and tallied 7.4 million pounds of debris, in 108 countries and 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
"The ocean is our life support system, yet marine debris continues to threaten its health. From product design to disposal, we all have a role to play in keeping our ocean clean and eliminating marine debris," said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy.
"The International Coastal Cleanup is an essential step to finding solutions," she said. "Data collected by dedicated volunteers inform solutions to the threat of trash in our ocean. By understanding sources of marine debris, we can work together to solve this problem. Join me and communities around the world this Sept. 25 to celebrate the International Coastal Cleanup and a 25-year Sea Change."
Over the last quarter-century, the International Coastal Cleanup has grown from a single cleanup on a Texas beach to a worldwide movement to end the threat of trash in our ocean.
In the span of 25 years, the International Coastal Cleanup expanded to include hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world who have removed many millions of pounds of trash from the Earth's ocean, lakes and waterways and documented what they found.
This unwavering dedication over the years has helped to make the environment safer for wildlife and people alike
And now this year, you have a chance to get involved, cleaning up the waterways in your own area.
For additional information about the International Coastal Cleanup and to sign up to be a part of the next wave of volunteers visit: www.oceanconservancy.org.
What better thing do you have to do this Saturday?