Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

My thrifted Ilse Jacobsen boots in action

My thrifted Ilse Jacobsen boots in action

Last Sunday morning, I dragged my family down to a street corner on the edge of the Olympic Village, armed with all the pairs of kitchen tongs we owned. I had signed us up for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup several months ago, and we were meeting our group for an hour and a half of picking up cigarette butts, bits of rubbish, coffee cups and, thrillingly, a waterlogged jumper.

Elliot, being a 3-year-old, mainly threw rocks in the water, though he did enjoy some rubbish collection with his own tongs. We kept a vague count, and over that 90-minute period we must have collected over 400 cigarette butts ourselves. It was noted that it felt more than a little like the body find at the beginning of a Law & Order episode as we combed through the long grasses under a pedestrian bridge. Thankfully that sodden jumper was the only exciting thing we found.

I remember going along to marches, demonstrations, local art fairs, street parties, church fetes and all sorts when I was young, and I remember most of them. It felt a bit funny to be the one organising these little adventures. We’ll definitely go next year.

The Great Canadian Cleanup is jointly organised by the World Wildlife Fund and the Vancouver Aquarium. You can sign up for a cleanup near you, you don’t even need to be on the coast – volunteers work along rivers and lakes as well.

The intrepid cleaner-upper in action

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