Robin Knight recently participated in a Flash CleanFriday event hosted by Surfrider. (Westerly file photo)

Surfrider Pacific Rim: Flash Clean Fridays

Grab your reusable gloves, bags and buckets and join Surfrider Pacific Rim’s newest initiative.

Nicole Holman

Special to the Westerly

It’s time to hit the beach! Grab your reusable gloves, bags and buckets and join Surfrider Pacific Rim’s newest initiative: Flash Clean Fridays.

As a part of the solution to the proliferation of debris appearing on local beaches, we will be running weekly “flash cleans” on alternating beaches to help restore them to their former glory.

Flash Clean Fridays are a non-event where we spontaneously come together, in a socially distant fashion, to collect litter and marine debris from local beaches.

Similar to flash mob appearances, which is defined by a group of people that come together spontaneously to partake in a simultaneous action for a brief amount of time and then quickly disperse. In the case of Flash Clean Fridays, participants show up on their own, comb the beach distantly, and avoid congregation.

Based on recommendations from research by the New England Journal of Medicine, the debris is combined and left untouched for the number of days it will take COVID-19 to lose stability on given surfaces. Research shows that the virus is more stable on plastic than any other material. For plastics to surpass their possible contamination date, they are left untouched for five days to ensure there is no viable virus present when being handled. Once the five-day mark has passed, the litter and debris are sorted, weighed, and recorded for the most important step in the beach cleanup process: data collection!

Flash Clean Fridays are a multi-step approach to addressing the usual proliferation of litter during the summer season. It aims to inspire stewardship in beachgoers, create a culture of commercial responsibility, and to collect data that inform our efforts in addressing the root of the plastics pollution crisis.

Whether you’re out for a surf, at a beach fire, or on a midday sandy stroll, it’s always the perfect time to protect what you love and do a #5MinuteBeachClean on your own or with the people you’re with. Take it upon yourself to log your data using the Marine Debris Tracker App. Visit our website for more information on how to use the app! Making it count for science has never been so easy. We’ll never be able to clean our way out of the plastics pollution crisis. However, the data we collect during beach cleans is the first step towards tackling this issue at the source. By analyzing debris and tracking data, we can identify the roots of plastic pollution and advocate for systemic change. As surfers, beachgoers, residents, visitors, and business owners, it is our responsibility to foster a vibrant and inclusive community that comes together to protect and enjoy this incredible place. Thanks to all of the individuals and businesses that have come out, by inspiring local action and commercial stewardship we can create a culture of commercial responsibility and celebrate the positive changes being made. We’re stoked to celebrate Flash Clean Fridays in the upcoming weeks, make the beaches shine, and continue to use the data collected to create structural change. Let’s work together to protect what we love, make positive choices for the planet, and, ultimately, make beach cleans obsolete!

Nicole Holman is the staff intern at Surfrider Pacific Rim.

READ MORE: Environment Canada to release science review backing need for plastics ban

READ MORE: Province greenlights plastic bag bans for five B.C. municipalities

READ MORE: Surfrider Pacific Rim: Five ways to protect and enjoy the outdoors while self-isolating

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