A day devoted to picking up the trash we've left behind on our beaches and in our rivers and marshes is a productive, positive way to wrap up a busy summer.
This year, we mark the 25th Beach Sweep/River Sweep, a statewide cleanup organized by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
The sweep, set for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, is held in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, which involves hundreds of thousands of volunteers in more than 75 countries.
Many hands make light work of what at first blush can seem an overwhelming undertaking. Statewide last year, 2,706 volunteers picked up 27,121 pounds of debris along 264 miles of shoreline. Here in Beaufort County, 355 volunteers picked up 1,364 pounds of debris along 21 miles of shoreline.
The three-year total for Beaufort County is 7,464 pounds of trash picked up by 1,281 volunteers along 79 miles of shoreline. That's a lot trash picked up by a lot of people; we're grateful for the effort.
Those who want to pitch in this year have 12 sites to choose from, stretching from Fripp Island to Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island and including spots along the May and Beaufort rivers.
Why is it important to pick up this trash? The Beach Sweep/River Sweep organizers point out that aquatic debris is hazardous to our wildlife, our safety and our economy. South Carolina has vast water resources, diverse wildlife and a thriving tourism economy. We must do all we can to protect them.
The commitment and caring demonstrated by the volunteers who don boots and gloves or head out in their kayaks and boats to pick up trash Saturday are to be applauded. But we should make protecting our natural resources an everyday event.
For a list of the cleanup sites and more information about Beach Sweep/River Sweep, go to dnr.sc.gov/bsrs.