More than 30 people from the King Middle School community and beyond came together to fight marine debris at East End Beach in Portland.
Together, we picked up nearly 8,000 pieces of litter, most of it in one afternoon on June 4.
The project was all a part of a challenge we participated in sponsored by From The Bow Seat. The task: to get our local community involved and engaged in fighting marine debris ocean pollution.
Initially we were introduced to the problems of marine debris in a study we did last year at our middle school. The study was on storm water runoff and its harmful effects. We learned how all trash, unless picked up, will end up in our waterways.
After understanding the problem, we knew we had to do something.
Using an app we discovered, “The Marine Debris Tracker,” we launched our project. The mobile app allows users to pick up and track trash they see. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration then collects this data to be better informed about what’s going into our oceans and where it’s coming from.
We set a goal for the Portland community to pick up a collective 5,000 pieces of trash using the app. We traveled to many groups and organizations and earned the help of the Portland City Council, the Portland Public Middle Schools, and even the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. We were featured in a Channel 6 news story as well.
On the last day of tracking, we organized a beach clean up to help us reach our goal. We invited our community to join us at East End beach for a few hours to pick up trash and as one of the last pushes towards reaching our goal of 5,000 items. We had a small set up with a table, trash bags, gloves and a sign in sheet. The sign in sheet asked the people joining us to sign in with their name and then set a goal of how much trash the will strive to pick up, we then asked them before they leave to say whether or not they reached their goal.
Everyone on our team reached or exceeded their goal.
During the day, people we didn’t know stopped and joined in and Portland park rangers came over and talked to us about their work and our project. And a lot of people thanked members of our group for their hard work.
For us, it wasn’t just about the challenge or the amount of trash we could pick up. We hoped our project would encourage individuals to continue to use the app and set personal goals for themselves. We believe we succeeded at this, and that others will continue to pass on the trend to keep our oceans as healthy as possible.
—Guest post by Addie Farmer and Lainey Randall