#SkiptheStraw and Volunteer in Your Host Community!

By: Kaitlyn Peters, Greenheart Exchange Employer Services Coordinator

In mid-June, Greenheart Exchange traveled to New Hampshire to visit with participants working at an area waterpark! While there, we also completed a beach clean-up with Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. Participants from Jordan, Ukraine, and Colombia successfully removed 81 pounds of garbage from the Hampton Beach State Park! As this was many of the participants’ first time on the Atlantic seacoast, we also had a blast exploring the beach and testing out the cool waters.

Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation organizes over 200 cleanups each year. During each event, data is collected detailing the litter that is found on the beach, and used to develop specific pollution prevention initiatives. Participants learned how litter left on the beach can harm marine life which either swallow or become entangled in the trash. While the large pieces of debris, such as bottles and food packaging on the beach, were obvious, participants also learned that these larger pieces break down into smaller pieces of “micro-plastic”, which have widespread impacts up the food chain.

One of the most common pieces of litter we found were drinking straws. In fact, straws contribute heavily to the micro-plastic problem, and are one of the top ten most common types of trash found on beaches! Blue Ocean Society recognizes that drinking straws are usually unnecessary, and in response, has spearheaded an initiative named “Skip the Straw”. This initiative works to raise awareness about plastic pollution and encourages consumers to limit their straw use. If you feel motivated to also combat plastic pollution, feel free to take a picture and share it with the Blue Ocean Society by using their hashtag, #SkiptheStraw!

Do you care about the environment and want to make a difference? Join Greenheart Exchange on the Summer Work Travel program and become a volunteer in your host community!