Since the first Great Islands Clean-up in 2014, we have been tracking the number of volunteers, miles we’ve cleaned up, and pounds of garbage picked up per mile on Orcas. As you can see from the graph, 2015 has by far been the year of the most waste collected on our roads and beaches, and it only represents a Spring clean-up – the annual Fall clean-ups did not begin until 2016!
The good news is we have collected less and less garbage over the years. And with the Fall event coming soon, we are crossing our fingers that we can beat the 2019 pounds per mile!
Also worth noting, it seems as if the favorite items for litterers are beer cans and beer bottles with Corona and Rainier being the most popular brands being tossed out. Ironically, the aluminum Rainier cans are free to recycle but have to get tossed into the solid waste when picked up on the roads and beaches.
The first organized “Great Island Cleanup” in San Juan County happened on San Juan Island, organized by locals Lori Stokes and David Delendorf. In 2014, inspired by Lori and David, Orcas resident Kira Bradshaw decided to organize an even bigger event. Bradshaw enlisted the help of Orcas Recycling Services, San Juan Sanitation and Island Market, among other Eastsound businesses. It was a hugely successful event – but limited just to Orcas.
In 2015 Bradshaw got Lopez, Shaw and San Juan island onboard for what would be the first county-wide “Great Islands Cleanup” (plural). Soon after, San Juan County Public Works got involved, offering organizational support and funding through state litter grant funds. In 2016 Orcas introduced a fall cleanup, and since then other islands have followed suit.
Follow the Great Islands Clean-up Facebook page for more information on the Fall 2021 event.