Volunteers clean up heavy debris at the Port of Virginia. Photo: April Strickland/Chesapeake Bay Foundation

VA’s Largest Shoreline Cleanup Nets 100,000 Pounds of Litter

There are dedicated volunteer groups in every corner of the Chesapeake Bay who work to clean up their waterways and shorelines for the sake of the environment year in and year out.

But one time a year, thousands of people across Virginia join forces for that common goal. Clean the Bay Day is Virginia’s largest and longest-running shoreline cleanup. This past Saturday, more than 3,000 volunteers participated.

Showing how small acts by individuals can add up, those 3,000 people picked up some 100,000 pounds of litter in one day. The cleanup, held by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Virginia since 1989, took place at about 200 sites including the Shenandoah Valley to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Richmond and Hampton Roads. Volunteers also turned out at Virginia State Parks. Participants left 314 miles of beaches, parks, streams, rivers and lakes better than they found them.

The litter found most often included plastic bottles and bags, cans and cigarette butts. But cleanup volunteers also had to content with large items like a treadmill, a toilet, bumpers from a car and a ship, a leather office chair, a mini dirt bike, and yes—even a kitchen sink.

“It’s wonderful to see how this iconic event brings people together to make a positive impact in their communities. Parks, beaches, and waterways across Virginia are cleaner now thanks to the work of thousands of volunteers,” said CBF Grassroots Coordinator Lisa Renée Jennings. “These cumulative efforts contribute to healthier rivers and streams, and a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.”  

The total amount of litter and debris being tallied is expected to rise even higher than the 100,000 initially reported. Over the last 34 years, hundreds of thousands of Clean the Bay Day volunteers have removed millions of pounds of debris in Virginia.

-Meg Walburn Viviano