Riverbanks and South Carolina Aquarium Partner to Turn the Tide on Litter

For Immediate Release: November 5, 2019

Beach Cleanup Scheduled for Friday, November 8

[Columbia, SC] — Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and the South Carolina Aquarium will make waves for conservation during a litter sweep on the Isle of Palms in Charleston County on Friday, November 8. The beach cleanup will begin at 10:30 a.m.

The public is encouraged to participate in the litter sweep. Interested individuals or groups should meet for the cleanup at 10:30 a.m. at the public beach access located next to Coconut Joes Beach Grill, 1120 Ocean Boulevard. Sign in will be at the entrance to the beach; supplies will be provided.

Scientists estimate about 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. The partnership will help reduce the surge of plastics in our waterways and bolster the Zoo and Aquarium’s ongoing efforts to create a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable planet.

"Working together to eliminate plastic pollution is essential to protect the earth’s ecosystem,” said Susan O’Cain, director of communications at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “While litter left on beaches is one culprit, waste hundreds of miles inland can also be carried to sea by rivers. We are proud to partner with the Aquarium to conserve wildlife and wild habitats.”

To reduce the amount of deadly debris flowing to the Atlantic Ocean, Riverbanks began monthly river sweeps along the Saluda River nearly two years ago. Zoo and community volunteers have since removed nearly 5,000 lbs. of toxic trash from the banks of the Saluda. Riverbanks also has been able to recycle more than 2,100 lbs. of the litter collected.

"We are thrilled to partner with Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to remove plastic and debris from our beaches,” said Kelly Thorvalson, conservation programs manager at the South Carolina Aquarium. “We have found that partnering with the community is key to addressing this issue that harms not only animals, but also us humans. Riverbanks’ commitment to cleaning our waterways demonstrates how a healthy ocean is not just fostered along the coast, but inland as well.”

The South Carolina Aquarium works with the community to conduct litter sweeps throughout the state of South Carolina. In 2017, the Aquarium launched a citizen science app which houses the Litter-free Digital Journal — a project that captures and aggregates data from collected debris. This open source data can be used to support conservation initiatives, like single-use plastic bans.

In light of the holidays, the Zoo and Aquarium also are urging people to responsibly manage their holiday waste. Items such as Halloween candy wrappers, plastic bags for trick or treating and holiday gift packaging can end up in our oceans. Be sure to dispose of all items properly and use eco-friendly alternatives (such as cloth tote bags for trick or treating, and newspaper and yarn for gift wrapping) so you can make this holiday season a green one.

Note: Media interested in covering the Isle of Palms litter sweep should contact Riverbanks Zoo or the South Carolina Aquarium by 5pm on Thursday, November 7.

Media contacts:
Susan O’Cain, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Karen Monahan, South Carolina Aquarium