WRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Plastic pollution in waterways around the world is a growing problem, with an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year. Some local groups are working to remove plastic waste from the Susquehanna River in the 1st Annual Plastic Purge of the Lower Susquehanna.

Volunteers took kayaks and boats out to islands in the middle of the river to pick up plastics that had washed up there, while others stayed on shore to gather waste.

Plastic pollution is a problem both in the Susquehanna River and downstream in the Chesapeake Bay, explains Jodi Sulpizio, natural resources educator and York County Master Watershed Steward Coordinator for Penn State Extension, one of the organizations hosting the cleanup. The Chesapeake Bay then connects to the Atlantic Ocean.

“Plastics are never going to decompose or go away,” Sulpizio says, “they’re going to break down into smaller pieces.” Eventually, they break down into microplastics, which are being ingested by marine life. Sulpizio explains that the effects of microplastics are still being investigated.

“If we can do our part here, we’re going to be protecting…our area here but also our downstream neighbors,” says Ted Evgeniadis, executive director for the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, another group involved in hosting the plastic purge.

Evgeniadis and Sulpizio say that one way plastic pollution can be reduced is by limiting the consumption of single-use plastics. Sulpizio also explains that proper trash management can help reduce plastic pollution. For example, don’t put trash cans out when it’s windy.

Sulpizio also encourages proper recycling, which means only recycling items that are recyclable. When people put non-recyclable items in the bin, all of the waste is contaminated and will likely end up in a landfill, says Sulpizio.

Around 100 volunteers signed up for the first day of the Plastic Purge of the Lower Susquehanna, which took place last Saturday, Oct. 31. The second day of the plastic purge is this upcoming Saturday, Nov. 7. Volunteers can register here. Participants don’t need to have their own boats to get involved; organizers can ferry them to the islands and back.

There are two locations for the cleanup event:

Lock 2 Boat Ramp (lower)
2112 Fishing Creek Rd.
Wrightsville, PA 17368
(Note: easier parking at this location)

Susquehanna Boat Works
516 Boathouse Rd.
Wrightsville, PA 17368

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