Numbers tell a story. Each year volunteers share their stories with us when they send us their data: the number of river herring in a stream, the number of bacteria in their favorite swimming hole, or the number trash items during the Source to Sea Cleanup. Each of these numbers tells a story about the health of your rivers.
In 2020, volunteers in Connecticut covered 43 miles of rivers picking up trash in the Connecticut portion of the Connecticut River watershed. So, what story do the numbers tell us about the health of the Connecticut River?
The chart below shows the top 10 trash items found in rivers in Connecticut last year. Topping the list are beverage containers (plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans), items that have held this dishonorable distinction for years. Over 43 miles, volunteers picked up 3,174 beverage containers, averaging just about 74 bottles littered per mile.
Trailing bottles, food wrappers and foam pieces take second and third place for most common litter item found. These numbers are in line with the global numbers reported during the International Coastal Cleanup, hosted by the Ocean Conservancy. In 2019 food wrappers, cigarette butts and plastic bottles were the three most found items in rivers and coastal areas across the U.S. and in Connecticut.
We’d like to hear a different story from the numbers volunteers report to us. We want to tell a story about fewer plastic and glass bottles getting into our rivers and oceans. To do this, CRC is advocating for a greater number of bottles and packaging items to be made from recycled materials, reduction in the number of these products produced in the first place, increases to the deposit on bottles from 5 to 10 cents as well as the inclusion of more types of containers under the ‘bottle bill.’ Through partnerships with volunteers, government and businesses, we are working to rewrite the story of trash in our rivers.
Head to ctriver.org/takeaction for ways you can get involved and join the effort for cleaner rivers.