REV, the Charleston RiverDogs, and the SC Aquarium joined forces for a litter sweep event that had an immediate impact on the environment.

Over a mere two hours on a warm April morning, fifteen volunteers, including nine from REV, gathered behind Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park to collect 2,245 debris items. The amount of litter accumulated in the stadium vicinity, marsh area, and parking lot was substantial, but the volunteers put on their gloves and each one jumped right in.

During the sweep, it was found that two major categories of debris collected were glass bottles/fragments and plastic food wrappers/film. This discovery showed a clear need for better waste management and recycling practices, as well as responsible consumption habits. Littering is a crime in South Carolina, carrying penalties of fines ranging from $377.50 to $2,605.00 and community service requirements for this misdemeanor offense.

“Litter is still an issue even though it’s illegal because our way of life is so dependent on convenience packaging and disposable products that as a society, we are overwhelming our waste management systems,” said Linda Rowe, the conservation programs coordinator for the SC Aquarium. “People can make changes in their daily lives by choosing reusables whenever possible, or bringing your own reusable bottle or cup to work, skip the straw or use a metal or bamboo straw.”

Since opening in 2000, the SC Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center has cared for 40 sea turtle patients who ingested plastic debris similar to what was collected during the sweep. This kind of litter can cause severe health issues and pose a threat to the lives of marine animals in the area. Not surprisingly, plastic made up 74% of all litter documented in the South Carolina Aquarium’s Litter-Free Journal between 2018 and 2021.

The importance of this litter sweep cannot be solely measured by the number of debris items removed. The value of conservation efforts lies with the sense of community and joint endeavor to create a cleaner and more sustainable environment for both present and future generations.

Did you know?

  • Single-use plastics made up almost half (48%) of all the plastics (2018-2021)
  • Single-use carryout litter doubled in 2020 during the COVID pandemic
  • There are 19 municipalities in SC with single-use plastics bans