Press Release: Volunteers Collect Nearly 300 Pounds of Marine Debris Despite Freezing Temperatures

Volunteers walk along Second Beach to collect marine debris and litter. (Photo credit: Hugh Fanning)

MIDDLETOWN — On Saturday, February 9, 2019, Clean Ocean Access (COA) hosted a cleanup at Sachuest Beach, locally known as Second Beach, overlooking the beautiful Sachuest Bay. The south facing beach is a family friendly go-to with good surf and great sand.

58 volunteers braved the freezing temperatures and gusts of wind to collect a whopping 290 pounds of marine debris from the Sachuest Beach coastline. Volunteers, including several students from Salve Regina University and residents from across Aquidneck Island, spent the afternoon cleaning up the locally loved beach and popular tourist location, while exercising their public right to access the shoreline.

Located along the famous Cliff Walk, surrounded by sweeping views of the ocean, Salve Regina University offers students a coastal experience unlike any other. Whether moved by a social media post or motivated by their love of the ocean, many students felt compelled to do their part and participate in the cleanup at Second Beach this past weekend.

“A big part of being at Salve is the ocean, especially as we’re right on the Cliff Walk. If the ocean is ruined others will not have the same opportunity to enjoy it as we do now,” reflects Faith Lambert, a student at Salve Regina.

Volunteers collected over 442 individual items of marine and litter across two miles of shoreline, including 82 plastic and glass bottles, 54 caps and lids, 52 food wrappers and containers.

Nathaniel Crocker (left) and PJ McNamara, students from Salve Regina University. (photo credit: Hugh Fanning)

“Pollution is a growing concern, especially here in Rhode Island. We just came out to do our part because we know how important it is; it starts with the little things and works its way back up. Cleaning up the beach is the least we can do,” said PJ McNamara, a biology major at Salve Regina University.

COA’s beach cleanups are made possible by the generous sponsorship of People’s Credit Union and their support of a clean local economy. Their sponsorship helps fund the beach cleanup program and by supplying volunteers with cleanup kits that include grabbers, gloves, reusable bags, scales and clipboards.

The 2019 beach cleanup schedule is available online: http://www.cleanoceanaccess.org/calendar/. COA also actively seeks volunteers to join the flexible cleanup program. If you are interested in adopting a section of Sachuest Point to clean on a flexible monthly basis sign up online:  www.cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer/ or email jessica.frascotti@cleanoceanaccess.org.   

Press Release: Volunteers brave the cold to collect over 200 pounds of marine debris at Gull Cove

PORTSMOUTH — On Saturday, February 4, Clean Ocean Access (COA) organized a beach cleanup at Gull Cove Fishing Area in Portsmouth, where dozens of volunteers braved the freezing temperatures to clean the coastline of the popular boating and fishing area.

Forty-seven volunteers gathered and collected 221 pounds of debris around the perimeters of Gull Cove shoreline, where taller brush has been known to trap a surplus of various items of debris. Cigarette butts frequently become entangled in the brush. Volunteers collected 114 cigarettes and cigarette filters from the Gull Cove shoreline, accounting for a significant portion of the individual items found at the cleanup.

Over the years, Gull Cove has been misused as a dumping site, and as a result volunteers this weekend stumble upon larger marine debris items, such as tires, a car bumper, and a synthetic Christmas tree. The volunteers worked to collect marine debris and litter along the shoreline at Gull Cove, including large debris such as a fishing rod, two car tires, a car bumper and bike tire, as well as 86 glass bottles, 62 plastic bottles,  

Among the volunteers from the weekend cleanup there were students from Salve Regina University, Navy Supply Corps School and Middletown High School. “I wanted to promote a good relationship between the navy and the island community,” said Nick, a student with the Navy Supply Corps School, whose students frequently volunteer at COA cleanups. “We want to help make the community better; after all, we provide defense for the nation and the country means a lot to us, so we want to make sure it’s in pristine condition.”

This weekend’s cleanup gathered both veteran and new volunteers who helped clean up the local coastal environment for the betterment and enjoyment of all residents. “I’m a new Newport resident and I came out here to meet with people that also want to help clean the environment,” said Jinal Patel who recently moved to Aquidneck Island.

COA actively recruits volunteers for the flexible cleanup program, which allows residents to get involved and make a difference in the community on their own time. If you are interested in adopting a section of Sachuest Point for monthly flexible cleanups email: jessica.frascotti@cleanoceanaccess.org. For more information and upcoming volunteer opportunities visit: www.cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer/.

Press Release: Clean Ocean Access Releases Comprehensive Intern Report

MIDDLETOWN – Clean Ocean Access (COA) recently released a comprehensive report detailing the growth and success of the organization’s internship program, including profiles of interns both past and present. Since the launch of the internship program in 2015, COA has mentored twenty-nine high school, undergraduate and graduate students, who have engaged in professional internships in environmental science, education and research, as well as communications, marketing and finance.

This report demonstrates the diversity of interests and interdisciplinary backgrounds of students who intern with COA, as well as the different universities that the organization works with throughout the year, including both in-state and out-of-state institutions. Students use the invaluable experiences gained during their internships at COA to build professional networks and advance their future careers.

“I was motivated to intern with COA because I heard about all the work the organization does on Aquidneck Island,” said Eileen Dillon, communications and marketing intern during fall 2018. “It was a really awesome opportunity to be part of something where I could see myself making a difference in the community.”

Students who have pursued internships with COA have moved on to work as scientists, instructors and science experts in diverse fields across the private, nonprofit, federal and higher education sectors. Several internships have also resulted in full-time employment with the organization, including marine debris specialist, Max Kraimer, who completed three consecutive internships with COA and program manager, Eva Touhey, who was the organization’s first intern in 2015.

COA looks forward to growing and expanding its internship program, offering meaningful mentorship and experiential learning opportunities to students interested in engaging in environmental nonprofit work. During the spring 2019 semester alone, COA expects to bring on 10 interns to assist in environmental science, communications, environmental education, and policy research work.

“I strive to go the extra mile for my interns by enabling them to take on their own projects and encouraging students to play to their strengths,” said executive director, Dave McLaughlin. “The results of this have been extraordinary.”

Students have the opportunity to pursue summer, fall and spring internships during which they work alongside COA’s dedicated staff, board, volunteers and citizen scientists to advance the organization’s mission to eliminate marine debris, improve coastal water quality, and protect and preserve shoreline access on Aquidneck Island.

COA currently has environmental education and communications and marketing internship opportunities available for the spring 2019 semester. Interested candidates can find out more and apply by visiting COA’s employment and internships opportunity page.

Press Release: Clean Ocean Access Receives Grant from BankNewport 200th Anniversary Giving Program

NEWPORT – Clean Ocean Access (COA) is proud to have the support of BankNewport as a local business supporter on Aquidneck Island. At the end of fiscal year 2018, BankNewport contributed a total of $2,000 in support of COA’s mission to take action today so future generations can enjoy ocean activities. The generous corporate contributions will help advance COA projects and programming that aim to eliminate marine debris, improve coastal water quality, and preserve and protect shoreline access across Aquidneck Island. 

In celebration of two centuries of philanthropic commitment to Rhode Island, BankNewport launched a special “We’re All In” giving program that extends 200 ‘hyper-local’ donations, each in the amount of $1,000, in support of community projects geared toward making a positive impact in the lives of residents. COA is honored to have been selected as one of the 200 recipients of the “We’re All In” giving program.

“Thanks to the generosity and philanthropic spirit of local businesses like BankNewport, Clean Ocean Access can fulfill its mission and protect the coastal waters we love here in the Ocean State,” said Dave McLaughlin, COA executive director. “We look forward to strengthening mutually-beneficial relationships with the business community in 2019 and beyond.”

The $1,000 donation from BankNewport directly helps fund COA’s “Blue Access for All (BAFA)” grant project that connects underserved youth on Aquidneck Island to the coastline. Funded initially by Rhode Island Foundation, with additional support from The North Family Trust, BAFA seeks to inspire and motivate youth to get outside in nature, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and connect with their local marine environment. BankNewport’s contributions will help fund supplies for youth participating in BAFA, including reusable water bottles, team t-shirts, healthy snacks, backpacks, and journals.

“BAFA engages youth in ‘hands-on and minds-on’ activities that help build a sense of confidence and accomplishment in students, as well as a belief that healthy living is possible right here in Newport,” said Eva Touhey, COA program manager. “We are grateful to have BankNewport’s support to make this project possible and inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.”  

Additionally, employees at the BankNewport Administration & Operations Center, located at John Clarke Road in Middletown, organized a dress-down day on September 24th, 2018 that raised $1,000. COA is thrilled to have been chosen as the recipient of the casual-day fundraiser and looks forward to using the contributions to advance its mission for the betterment of all Aquidneck Island residents.

“Being active in our community and giving back has served as the foundation of BankNewport since our founding two-hundred years ago,” said Sandra J. Pattie, President and CEO, BankNewport. “Our employees selected Clean Ocean Access as the beneficiary of their $1,000 casual day donations, and the Bank was equally pleased to extend a $1,000 grant through our special 200th Anniversary ‘We’re All In” giving program – all in support of the important work by Clean Ocean Access to protect, preserve and improve shoreline access for our residents and visitors to enjoy.

Press Release: Improving Ocean Health Starts on Land

Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas Rhode Island Project Launch with Clean Ocean Access and 11th Hour Racing.

NEWPORT, RI – On Friday, December 7th U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed and DEM Director, Janet Coit, gave remarks at the launch event of an innovative multi-year project spearheaded by Clean Ocean Access, a nonprofit organization based on Aquidneck Island. Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas Rhode Island is a two-year long initiative funded by 11th Hour Racing that aims to inspire long-lasting environmentally responsible behavior by tackling ocean pollution at its root: on land.

“The marine debris epidemic is a solvable problem, and from our experience, people absolutely want to see ocean pollution become a problem of the past,” says Dave McLaughlin, executive director of Clean Ocean Access. “Restoring and improving ocean health starts with the decisions we make on land.”

Clean Ocean Access will lead Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI, bringing together composting efforts across the state in partnership with existing food-waste-diversion groups: The Compost Plant, Rhodeside Revival and the Aquidneck Community Table. The three partners serve as the boots-on-the-ground team that will manage all commercial and residential composting collection and processing with an initial focus on Aquidneck Island.

Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI includes three composting programs:

  1. A pilot business composting program for 10 businesses in downtown Newport;
  2. A residential program for households on Aquidneck Island; and
  3. An educational pilot program, “Yes, In My Back Yard (YIMBY),” for backyard composting.Grant funding from 11th Hour Racing allows Clean Ocean Access to subsidize the composting programs and offer discounted rates to the first round of customers who sign up through Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI. The initiative brings together diverse stakeholders that include non-profit organizations, academia, government, local businesses, and industry with the hope of expanding an integrated materials management initiative throughout the State of Rhode Island. 

“What we do on land and in our every day lives affects ocean health,” said RI DEM Director, Janet Coit, citing that 100,000 tons of food waste enters the Central landfill each year. “With Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI we have an example of people seizing their own destinies, being responsible and doing it at a local level.”

Plastic makes up 10-15% of the material entering Rhode Island’s landfill. Organic waste and debris makes up another 30-35%, and the Johnston landfill is expected to reach capacity by 2034, according to a recent report published by RI Resource Recovery Corporation. With the potential to divert nearly 50% of the materials entering the landfill, integrated recycling and composting efforts could double the landfill’s lifetime through 2049 and mitigate costly expenses associated with out-of-state tipping fees.

“There’s a real spirit of bipartisanship around oceans,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, speaking of the work being done at the national level to tackle plastic pollution and marine debris. He emphasized the critical role local projects like Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI play to spark national urgency around the problem of ocean pollution.

“Marine debris can harm marine life impact, boating safety, hinder tourism and other coastal industries, as well as threaten human health,” emphasized U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who also spoke of the success of the Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program started in Rhode Island in 2012. “I am very proud to see Rhode Island leading the way on this issue.”

By encouraging people to think critically about their waste footprints, Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI aims to spark long-lasting behavior change that empowers people to reevaluate the need for low-and-no value materials entering the landfill, or worse, polluting our ocean.

“Every day organic waste is disposed of in the landfill where it generates greenhouse gases that warm our planet and are detrimental to ocean health” said Michelle Carnevale, Program Manager at 11th Hour Racing. Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI is a wonderful initiative that allows the community to come together and collaborate on an effective, and simple, solution. 11th Hour Racing is proud to support this project that promotes systemic change through individual and collective action.”

For more information about Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas RI, and to learn how you can join the first wave of participants turning the tide on ocean pollution visit: http://www.cleanoceanaccess.org/hshsri/.

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About Clean Ocean Access: Since 2006 our mission is action today so future generations can enjoy ocean activities, with an exclusive focus on Aquidneck Island. Living on Aquidneck Island defines a coastally inspired life; so our cause of working for clean beaches, healthy oceans, safe swimming water, and public access of the shoreline is what we do, all year long. We are a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, learn more at www.cleanoceanaccess.org.

About 11th Hour Racing: 11th Hour Racing establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing and maritime communities to promote collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of our ocean – one degree at a time. Since 2010, 11th Hour Racing has been harnessing the power of sport with an innovative and comprehensive approach through three primary areas of engagement: Partners, Grantees, and Ambassadors. Learn more at www.11thhourracing.org.

About The Compost Plant: The Compost Plant will produce significant quantities of high-quality compost for the retail and wholesale marketplace in southern New England, building a unique Rhode Island brand that capitalizes on the surging interest in locally and organically-produced food. Learn more at www.compostplant.com.

About Aquidneck Community Table: Aquidneck Community Table (ACT) combines civic conversation, local entrepreneurship, institutional partnerships, and digging in the dirt with the principles of an equitable food system for all on Aquidneck Island. After successfully bringing three related groups under one organizational umbrella in 2016, ACT uses that collective energy to strengthen the island’s food system; to support the local economy and expand access to fresh healthy food for all; and to act directly to grow more food, preserve open space, and teach life skills. Learn more at www.aquidneckcommunitytable.org.

About Rhodeside Revival: Rhodeside Revival was born out of the idea of providing a service that brings the community together in an effort to reduce waste, while also creating quality compost for your garden and giving back to our schools, gardens and other institutions within the community. Rhodeside Revival operates a curbside composting program that brings your home’s food scraps away from the landfill, and into the garden. Learn more at www.rhodesiderevival.com.