The Great Islands Clean Up (GICU) is a bi-annual event held in San Juan County every Spring and Fall. Residents from San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw Islands come together to collect trash from county roads and beaches. Much this trash of which will eventually end up in our beautiful Salish Sea. From there it winds up in the stomachs of marine and terrestrial life, and taints the food we eat.
GICU groups collect literal ton’s of trash every year. According to the WA State Department of Ecology, Community Litter Clean up Programs in San Juan County collected 22,987lbs of trash in 2020. In lieu of an official GICU event, residents of Orcas Island worked together to clean up areas all over the island. They collected 2.2 tons of trash in the month of April 2020. The “Litter Grant” funds the disposal of all the trash, and the data collected helps fund efforts to reducing trash in high impact areas and future clean up events.
Trash Stains Our Coastline…
Ocean trash contributes heavily to the death of marine animals and to climate change. It stains our beautiful coastline, and it’s discouraging to see so much litter washing up on our beaches. As a kayaker it’s hard not to notice a littered beach as you paddle past, land for lunch, or camp for the evening.
Ever since moving to the San Juan’s I have been cleaning up beach trash and litter from the local lakes and roadsides. It is fairly routine for me to return from a kayaking trip with a pile of trash strapped to my kayak. I find things like fishing buoys, styrofoam, plastic, balloons, fishing line, tires and household trash. I decided that I’d like to make a more formal effort and get other kayakers involved, which is what led me to the GICU team.
Lets Work Together!
This year, Body Boat Blade will put it’s hat into the ring to help with beach cleaning efforts during the GICU. We’ve joined up with the group based on San Juan Island, and will be kayaking around Henry Island picking up as much trash as we can. Our goal is to paddle to places inaccessible by land such as, pocket beaches, beaches below cliffs or beaches that don’t have easy land access since these areas generally do not get cleaned by GICU or other clean up groups.
As many kayakers can attest, these areas love to collect trash. It’s often these hard to reach places that are the dirtiest since they’re rarely, or never cleaned. Cleaning up Henry Island during the GICU will be the beginning of this effort to clean up the San Juan’s by kayak. I will keep the efforts going with multiple kayak based events each year. I’ll be planning clean-up events around Fidalgo Island and on the lakes and rivers of Skagit/San Juan County. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop!
Thank you NRS!
Our group of kayakers at GICU will have the support of NRS. They are a paddlesport equipment manufacturer based in Moscow, ID and they have put a lot of energy into supporting stewardship events around the world. They will be supplying us with durable, large 55L Tuff Sack Drybags to help us contain our collected trash on our kayaks. Their support is greatly appreciated!
The event is on April 24th, and we will operate around ideal tides during that day. The event itself runs from 9am-2pm. If you’d like to be a part of a kayak group at the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll need to bring your own kayak and have a way to transport it to San Juan Island county park, where we will launch.
Visit https://plasticfreesalishsea.org/ to find out more information about the event.