The largest international volunteer event of its type attracted 378,000 people from 76 nations in 2007. It was not intended to raise money, nor to run a marathon. But it was to collect trash. Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup takes place every third Saturday of September. Volunteers go to beaches and watersways to clean up trash and create a new way of life.

Ingestion and entanglement are two of the main causes of death for seabirds. Sea turtles mistakenly believe that a sandwich bag floating in water is a jellyfish. He eats the sandwich bag, and his stomach expands. This causes him to feel full. He dies from starvation as a result.

Global volunteers removed 6,000,000 pounds of trash from beaches around almost all major bodies of water in 2007. They found 81 birds, 63 fish and 49 invertebrates on the beaches.

“Our ocean is sick,”Laura Capps is the senior vice president of Ocean Conservancy. “Harmful impacts like trash in the ocean, pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction are taking their toll.”

Over 6 million volunteers have taken out 116 millions pounds of debris along 211.460 miles of coastline in 127 countries, since 1986 when the International Coastal Cleanup was initiated.

“Trash doesn’t fall from the sky, it falls from people’s hands,”Capps. “With the International Coastal Cleanup, everyone has an opportunity to make a difference, not just on one day but all year long.”

However, Americans can make a difference in preserving oceanic health throughout each year. Here are some tips.

Toss trash in the correct containers. A candy wrapper can be tossed into a trash bin in seconds.

Recycle. Recycling reduces waste, which in turn means less waste going to the oceans.

– Use reusable bags. Reusable cloth bags can be used to transport groceries and other purchases. This will save natural resources, and help prevent more trash entering the oceans.

The 23rd Annual Clearup will take place on September 20, 2008. Register here