Trash buildup from Hurricane Ian leads to waterfront cleanups

Around 70 people, including Mayor John Tecklenburg, picked up litter along Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston.
Published: Dec. 3, 2022 at 3:35 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2022 at 11:41 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After the effects of Hurricane Ian leads to tremendous trash build-up on Lowcountry waterfronts, local environmental organizations and the people of Charleston put in their best efforts to help clean it up.

Around 70 people, including Mayor John Tecklenburg, picked up litter along Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston.

This is one of the many cleanups that organizations like Keep Charleston Beautiful, Charleston Parks Conservancy, Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network and South Carolina Aquarium do on a regular basis.

An official with the South Carolina Aquarium says they take data from these litter sweeps and put it into a litter-free digital journal.

This data tracks the hotspots of litter, what kind of litter is most common and how bans, like single-use plastic bans, are affecting certain areas. They say plastic and Styrofoam are the main debris.

“We are in a crisis with plastic pollution,” South Carolina Aquarium Conservation Programs Manager Kelly Thorvalson said. “It’s affecting our waterways and our wildlife, and we have to do something about it. So, along with cleaning this debris, and taking data to learn about the types of debris that we’re finding, you know, just getting folks involved and helping them understand how this debris is hurting marine life. That’s really an important piece of this kind of event.”

Lauren Rust, executive director of the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, says this kind of debris has a negative effect on wildlife animals. She says these cleanups help prevent that.

“I think, you know, some of the pictures that showed all of the litter here and all of these great organizations really just inspire people to want to come out,” Rust said. “I think it will make a huge difference today and it’s definitely something that’s got to be ongoing as well.”

Thorvalson says the group picked up approximately 700 pounds of trash, which included 25 bags and lots of large debris by the end of the clean-up.

Both Thorvalson and Rust say following all of these organizations on their social media pages is the best way to find out how to get involved with future cleanups.