'Garbage Swim' has participants front-crawling for cleaner coastlines
RIVERVIEW, N.B. -- Dumping garbage into any body of water might seem counter productive in the quest for cleaner coastlines, but today in Riverview, folks from the Fundy Biosphere Reserve did just that.
The Fundy Biosphere Reserve is over 430,000 hectares of coastline along the upper Bay of Fundy. The area stretches from St. Martins to the Tantramar Marsh, and inland to Moncton.
Reserve executive director, Jennifer Dingman, says the organization has been focusing on reducing the amount of plastics in our oceans.
"Partners of ours have done studies in the Bay of Fundy to look at micro-plastics and they're prevalent everywhere. There are even some micro-plastics in Fundy National Park where it's a pristine wilderness, so water really does bring things everywhere," says Dingman.
Biosphere ambassador and high school student, Beth Stevens, was the brain behind the aptly named "Garbage Swim" fundraiser.
Bags filled with single-use plastic garbage, that had been cleaned and donated by staff of the reserve, were dumped into the Lion Ken Gabbey outdoor pool in Riverview Friday afternoon. Participants were encouraged to gather as many items as they could from the water, with each piece earning them a raffle ticket for a chance to win an eco-inspired gift basket.
Stevens is a lifeguard at the pool, and got the idea for the swim-a-thon while on duty one day.
"We have this beautiful amazing outdoor space here, but our oceans and even our rivers and all of these amazing ecosystems are constantly being filled with our garbage just because people aren't really aware that it's a problem," says Stevens.
Swimmers could sign up to swim however many kilometers of "coast" they'd like, with members from the community pledging their support for each metre.
"Obviously no one is going to be like, 'oh yeah pollution is great,' but sometimes people are like 'yeah but I recycle, I do my part,' but it's been really great to see people really want to take action and be like yeah this is a problem; we've got to fix it."
"It's really part of all of our best interests and our responsibility to be reducing the plastic we use so that it doesn't end up on our beach or on someone else's," says Dingman.
Stevens says even the smallest of actions can make an impact when it comes to being eco-friendly.
"Even just using a metal straw once or even just saying no and bringing your own coffee from home, that is making a difference even though it feels small in the long run of the big issues. I want them to know they can make a difference and it's not completely out of our hands."
All proceeds raised over the next two weeks will go towards purchasing supplies for a coastal cleanup at St. Martins Beach along the sea caves on Aug. 20.