by Ivy Munnerlyn, Coastal Programs Coordinator
Happy September! Coastal Cleanup Month has arrived, and with it plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and help keep Humboldt’s beaches and waterways free of litter. This year, we’re combining the best elements of past events to create a new month-long event full of citizen science, coastal stewardship, and prizes. Local community groups and businesses will be hosting cleanups every weekend of the month, so you’ll have more opportunities than ever to get outside and participate. After your cleanup, remember to fill out the Data Reporting Form on our website so you can be entered to win a gift basket full of local goodies. You can also head to yournec.org/coastalcleanupmonth to see a list of cleanup locations and times, sign up as a volunteer, or make a donation.
A Note About Citizen Science
Citizen science is a very important part of Coastal Programs at the NEC, and Zero Waste Coastal Cleanup Month is a perfect opportunity to collect data about the trash we see on our streets and beaches. Our Coastal Program’s staff and volunteers track marine and neighborhood debris to find local waste patterns (what kind of trash is being found and where) so we can advocate for waste reduction solutions in our community. We encourage everyone participating in Coastal Cleanup Month to fill out a data card or use the NOAA Marine Debris Tracker App during their cleanup. The data you collect will have a big impact on how our community tackles waste issues. Check out our website to learn more about how you can become a citizen scientist and contribute to a world-wide marine debris database.
The Plastic Problem of Shotgun Wads
I wanted to take a moment to update the community on an exciting development in the world of sport hunting. As many of you have noticed, plastic shotgun wad litter is a huge issue in Humboldt County. When a hunter fires a shotgun, the wad is propelled 30-50 yards away, making it almost impossible to retrieve. In the old days, wads were made of cardboard and didn’t pose as much of an environmental threat. Nowadays, it’s cheaper and easier to make them out of plastic, which has created a monumental plastic pollution issue. Recently, the ammunition brand Rio Ammo has begun to sell a new, completely biodegradable shotgun wad that works just as well as the plastic variety, without the accompanying litter. If you or your friends and family hunt, take a look at Rio Ammo’s Eco BlueSteel product. If you have a favorite sporting goods store, let them know about this product and encourage them to carry it. Tackling the issue of plastic wad litter will help preserve the wildlife and ecosystems that so many of us depend on for food, livelihood, and recreation.