09/18/2015 12:05 EDT | Updated 09/18/2016 05:12 EDT

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Goes Coast-to-Coast

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USA, Florida, St. Petersburg, Girl (10-11) collecting plastic bottle on beach

Written by James Snider, Acting Vice President, Freshwater

From coast to coast on Saturday, September 19, more than 35,000 Canadians will be out in full force to clean up a shoreline in their community for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Ltd. It's part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day, making it one of the biggest cleanup events in the world.


WWF staff pull debris from spring cleanup in Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto, Ontario. © Rebecca Spring / WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada's vision is for all Canadian waters to be healthy by 2025. That isn't very far away, so we must do all we can to set ourselves on the path towards healthier waters. This is why we are working with partners including the Vancouver Aquarium and Loblaw to encourage Canadians to make a difference in their community.

Freshwater conservation is at a critical point right now as demand for water increases around the world. In WWF's recent Living Planet Report, we found that freshwater species have declined by 76 per cent globally over the past three decades.

This trend won't stop unless we take action. We want people to participate in events like the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup because 20 per cent of the world's freshwater supply is in Canada, and so as Canadians we have a responsibility to act as stewards of our local watersheds.

So, over the past four years, WWF-Canada has been taking the pulse of Canada's watersheds to get a comprehensive assessment of the health and threats that our waters are facing. Assessments of half of the watersheds have been completed so far, with a full national picture to be completed by 2017. This is important work being done at a national scale that provides accessible scientific data using an open-source common methodology that will help us understand and protect our greatest natural resource and the people, wildlife and ecosystems that depend on it.

I am proud to say that since 2003, over 400,000 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup participants have removed nearly one million kilos of garbage from our shorelines. That's a lot of cigarette butts and plastic bottle caps. These volunteers are making an impact and making sure our waters are healthy, but this is just the starting point. WWF's Watershed Reports found that pollution is one of the most significant threats to Canada's rivers and lakes, with most of the 17 watersheds we've assessed scoring high or very high in this category.

The overall results we've gathered so far on the threats to our nation's watersheds show we need to take action now -- and you can! Join me and thousands of volunteers across the country on September 19 for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, then take it one step further and go to to learn about what else you can do to protect the watershed you live in.


Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup