Archived Story

NC Big Sweep organizers seek volunteers

Published 9:13pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

During last year’s Big Sweep, Beaufort County volunteers collected 1,640 pounds of trash. The haul included three tires, 40 bags of recyclable material and 42 bags of what went straight to the dump.
“That was with several other groups throughout the county,” said local organizer Linda Boyer of the North Carolina Estuarium. “But Pamlico-Tar River Foundation is going to Pitt County, the Belhaven Yacht Club isn’t doing it and the lady from Crystal Beach was in a car accident and I’m not sure about the Girl Scouts.”
And where does that leave the N.C. Estuarium’s Big Sweep River Roving Cleanup efforts? As of Tuesday, it was tentative. Of the 10 available spots on the river-roving cleanup, only one has been filled.
The clean up is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, but may have to be cancelled if no other volunteers step up.
“This is the only big sweep that we do. We go up the river. We go onshore at Party Island at the middle of Tranter’s Island (some people call it Red Hat Island),” Boyer said.
You may think the fast food wrapper that was in the ditch yesterday disappeared, but in reality, it was blown or washed just a little further down the road. Eventually, it will arrive in our waterways.
“The sad part about litter is that it hurts everyone,” said Chad Essick, NC Big Sweep chairman. “It affects our economy, our health and our wildlife.”
Litter can last hundreds of years. It attracts disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. It’s deadly to wildlife that eat or become entangled in litter, and once entangled, wildlife often attract other wildlife to the same hazard. Every year, Big Sweep volunteers find entangled animals, and last year was no exception. Of the 29 entangled animals found in 2012, only five could be released alive. When litter finally starts decomposing, it leaches chemicals into our groundwater.
“There is hope,” Essick said. “Every piece of litter retrieved will make a difference in preventing future damage.”
Because there have been no major hurricanes or storms, Boyer said there would not be much of a mess to pick up along the Pamlico-Tar.
Participants show up with closed-toe shoes and the estuarium provides gloves and other supplies.
The official statewide date for the 2013 Big Sweep is Oct. 5, but local cleanups can be scheduled on other days as well. Essick said that the goal is to get the litter out of the environment, and they don’t care when it is done.
To get involved, contact Amy at 252-948-0000 by Thursday morning or sign up at

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