Volunteers participating in the 2021 International Coastal Cleanup at Rocky Point in Warwick celebrate their cleanup efforts. They joined a total of 1,940 volunteers in Rhode Island to collect 11,778 pounds of trash for local shorelines last year.

This September-November, Save The Bay is calling on volunteers to be the change and #SeaTheChange as part of Ocean Conservancy’s 37th International Coastal Cleanup® (ICC), the world’s largest volunteer effort to remove and record trash from local lakes, waterways, beaches and the ocean.

“With each piece of trash we collect, we can see firsthand the difference we make in our environment – and by joining the ICC, volunteers can #SeaTheChange for themselves,” said July Lewis, Save The Bay’s Volunteer and Internship Manager.

When local volunteers participate in the Rhode Island ICC effort, they contribute to the world’s largest database on marine debris by recording data about the trash they collect and submitting it to the Ocean Conservancy. Scientists, researchers, industry leaders and policymakers rely on Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index and annual global cleanup reports to inform policy and determine solutions to the growing marine debris crisis.

Every year, millions of tons of trash—including an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic waste—flow into the ocean, impacting more than 800 marine species and even entering the food chain. Since the first ICC in 1986, more than 17 million volunteers have joined cleanup efforts big and small to remove over 350 million pounds (158 million kilograms) of trash from beaches and waterways worldwide. In 2021, Rhode Island volunteers collected and recorded 11,778 pounds of trash from the Narragansett Bay watershed. Top items included drinking-related litter (plastic and glass bottles, cans, caps, straws and stirrers) and smoking-related items (cigarette butts, wrappers and cigar tips).

“No matter where you are or the size of your cleanup, every piece of trash collected by ICC volunteers helps to stem the tide of plastic entering our ocean and helps ocean life see a change in their environment,” said Allison Schutes, director of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. “We’re excited to be able to come together for this year’s ICC; and we are so grateful for the efforts of Save The Bay and all the Rhode Island volunteers in helping us achieve our shared vision for a cleaner, healthier ocean.”

While ICC officially kicks off on Saturday, September 17, Save The Bay has organized more than three dozen cleanups around Narragansett Bay throughout the season, including the following cleanups in Newport County:

            Saturday, September 17:
                  Easton’s Beach, Newport: 10 a.m.-Noon
                  Melville Park, Portsmouth: Noon-2 p.m. Hosted by Clean Ocean Access

            Tuesday, September 20:
                  Patience Island Cleanup: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Departing from Warwick

            Friday, September 23:
                  Prudence Island Cleanup: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Departing from Warwick

            Sunday, September 25:
                  Potter Cove & Taylor Point, Jamestown: 10 a.m.-Noon

            Tuesday, October 4:
                  Dyer Island Cleanup: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Departing from Portsmouth

            Thursday, October 6:
                  Patience Island Cleanup: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Departing from Warwick

            Saturday, October 8:
                  Common Fence Point, Portsmouth: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 

            Saturday, October 22:
                  Nanaquaket Bridge, Tiverton:  10 a.m.-Noon

            Saturday, November 5:
                  Taylor’s Lane, Little Compton: Noon-2 p.m. Hosted by Clean Ocean Access

Learn more about or sign up for Save The Bay’s ICC cleanups on the organization’s Volunteer Portal at volunteer.savebay.org/international-coastal-cleanup. To learn more about last year’s ICC effort in Rhode Island, including details regarding the litter collected, download the 2021 ICC Report by clicking here. Organizations and individuals looking to learn more about leading their own ICC cleanup should contact July Lewis at jlewis@savebay.org.

Rhode Island’s International Coastal Cleanup effort is made possible in part by Save The Bay’s event sponsors, including: Citizens Bank; Rhode Island Energy; Arbella Insurance Foundation; UNFI; Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Foundation; Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, LTD; COX Communications; REXEL Energy Solutions; Bradford Soap; Fuss & O’Neill; Horsely Witten Group, Inc.; DBVW Architects; F.L. Putnam Investment Management Company; BayCoast Bank; Brown Medicine; Centreville Savings Bank; Kite Architects; Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty; Narragansett Bay Insurance, Co.; Coastal1 Credit Union; Sunflower Design; Blaeser Insurance Agency; and Wright-Pierce. 

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