Successful St. Lawrence River trash cleanup is an indicator for severe plastic pollution, local leaders state

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CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Save the River, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper recently hosted their first trash cleanups.

The success and hard work was evident in three heaping dump trucks full of trash. Over 90 volunteers pulled discarded items directly from the French Bay area in Clayton, both on the water and along the shore. They pulled items including paper, cigarette butts and even an old typewriter.

But, according to Save the River Executive Director John Peach, the most alarming result was the overwhelming accumulation of plastic.

According to Peach, plastic pollution is a continuous growing topic of concern as it serves as a habitat and ecosystem disrupter. Plastic can block food and water sources, be ingested by fish, bird and mammal species and dangerously breakdown into microplastics.

Microplastics, according to the World Health Organization, are a recent danger to humans as they break down and are ubiquitous to the environment. These invisible plastic particles have been detected in drinking water all over the world.

With this in mind, John Peach stated that the recent cleanups support Save the Rivers initiatives to help rid the state of single use plastics through legislation. But Peach encouraged the community to stop these materials from entering natural habitats through cleanup events.

Save the River hopes to expand these cleanups events to various locations on the St. Lawrence River shorelines both in New York and Canada, as well as on islands in the region. Peach stated that the enthusiasm and support of the community will help to continue these events in the future.

Watch the full interview with Executive Director John Peach above.

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