More people than ever took part in this year’s effort to clean up trash along the shorelines of the middle Texas coast.

The third annual Shoreline Cleanup, organized by the San Antonio Bay Partnership, covered 54 miles between Sept. 22 and Oct. 1. In all, 183 people participated.

Volunteers picked up 11,883 items — including, among other things, plastic bags, single-use bottles and cups, aluminum cans and food wrappers.

“Our participation numbers tripled this year,” said Allan Berger, who chairs the partnership and serves as the group’s cleanup coordinator. “I was significantly impressed with the amount of trash our teams picked up and it goes to show just how significant a problem this is.”

The project began Sept. 22, when employees of plastics plant Braskem Seadrift picked up items along the shores of the Powderhorn Wildlife Management Area in Port O’Connor. Five days later, boaters from Seadrift traveled to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge to collect trash there.

The senior class from St. Joseph High School in Victoria offered a helping hand with the cleanup efforts as well. Their help in Port O’Connor on Sept. 29 counted as a service project for the students who participated.

Cleanup efforts concluded in Port O’Connor on Oct. 1, when volunteers set out in search of discarded litter.

Keeping garbage away from sea creatures is an important task, as sea turtles and other wildlife may confuse plastics for food, Berger said.

From his observations along coastal shorelines, Berger has noticed that much of the waste ending up in the water comes from items that have blown off boats. Boaters can tackle this issue by bringing trash bins and refillable bottles on board with them.

“You can’t pick it all up, but you can prevent it from getting there,” Berger said.

Although 50 miles of shoreline may seem like a wide amount of space, Berger said the partnership is always in need of volunteers who can help cover more shoreline.

“Our volunteers find this to be rewarding because we are mobilizing ourselves to take better care of the bays,” Berger said.

For more information on the San Antonio Bay Partnership’s trash cleanups, visit sabaypartnership.org.

Leo Bertucci is a Report for America corps member who covers energy and environment for the Victoria Advocate.

Locations

Energy and Environment Reporter

Before moving to the Crossroads, Leo Bertucci studied journalism and political science at Western Kentucky University.