Press Release
The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) in Virginia

PRESS RELEASE August 10, 2010

Contact: Katie Register
Clean Virginia Waterways
434-395-2602 or

Volunteers to Clean Local Streams, Rivers and Beaches as Part of International Effort

Throughout September and October, approximately 6000 Virginians will be combing local waterways and beaches for beverage containers, discarded cigarette filters, deflated balloons, fishing line and other pieces of litter. More than 160 cleanup events across Virginia are scheduled for the annual Virginia Waterways Cleanup (part of the International Coastal Cleanup). The cleanups are organized by globally by the Ocean Conservancy. In Virginia, the International Coastal Cleanup is organized by Clean Virginia Waterways and more than 150 local "site captains."

A complete list of International Coastal Cleanup events in Virginia can be found on the new interactive which is maintined by the Ocean Conservancy.

During last year's statewide cleanup, 5,641 volunteers bagged 169,517 pounds of litter. They also completed surveys about the types and quantity of trash they found.

The "Top Ten" list of litter items from 2009 shows cigarette filters were the most frequently found item. Cigarette butts, which are plastic and contain chemicals that are toxic to small animals, have been the most common debris item reported nationwide for the past 16 years according to the Ocean Conservancy which tabulates data from around the world. Data collected by volunteers during last year's cleanup in Virginia shows that fast food items are also a dominant type of litter in and near Virginia's rivers, streams and on our beaches. The Top Ten list from the 2009 cleanups in Virginia:

1.  Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters
2.  Food Wrappers/Containers
3.  Beverage Bottles (plastic) 2 liters or less
4.  Beverage Cans
5.  Glass Beverage Bottles
6.  Bags (Plastic)
7.  Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons
8.  Caps, Lids
9.  Straws, Stirrers
10. Bags (Paper)

"The Top Ten most frequently found pieces of litter in Virginia turned out to be more than 87 percent of the total amount of litter volunteers found last year," said Katie Register, CVW's executive director. "If we could change people's habits when it comes to disposing of their food wrappers, bottle, cans, straws and cigarette butts, we would go a very long way to reducing the trash found in our waterways and on our beaches," she continued.

Volunteers in Virginia will bag an expected 100 tons of litter during the 2010 cleanups, while also collecting valuable data regarding the debris found. By recording specific data on the types and amount of trash found in and around waterways, sources of pollution can be identified. Data from local cleanup efforts are then combined with international results, assisting with research and policy decision making. Data collected by volunteers are used by local-, state- and national-level organizations. The U.S. Coast Guard and Virginia State Parks are among the data users.

Trash in waterways can drown, smother, poison, entangle and severely injure fish, birds, and marine life including dolphins and whales. The majority of debris found in our oceans and on our beaches originates from inland sources, such as storm drains, and roadside litter. Because of this, the International Coastal Cleanup events are organized statewide -- even in the mountains.

Clean Virginia Waterways is a statewide, nonprofit, non-governmental organization dedicated to improving the cleanliness of Virginia's waterways by promoting citizen stewardship. CVW is affiliated with Longwood University in Farmville, and with the Ocean Conservancy. The ICC in Virginia is funded in part by a grant from Altria, and in-kind support from dozens of sponsors. For several years now, Glad Bags have donated thousands of trash bags to support this annual volunteer cleanup event.

People interested in joining their local International Coastal Cleanup event should contact their local site captain, or see the Clean Virginia Waterways web site for more details:

Notes to the Editor:

For more information about the litter found during last year's International Coastal Cleanup in Virginia, please call Clean Virginia Waterways' executive director, Katie Register or visit

A Media Kit for the International Coastal Cleanup can be found on The Ocean Conservancy's web site:


Kathleen M. Register, Executive Director
Clean Virginia Waterways
Longwood University
Farmville, VA 23909
Phone: 434-395-2602 Email:

Also, learn about the litter and debris our volunteers found last year in our waterways:

The Top Ten lists from previous ICC events in Virginia

Other data collected by ICC volunteers in Virginia

Unusual items we have found in Virginia's waterways

Back to the CVW Press Releases page

Clean Virginia Waterways Home Page

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