Several members of the Diocese of New Westminster were at Renfrew Park in Vancouver one Saturday in September to join the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Each year, the Vancouver Aquarium organizes the event as part of the International Coastal Cleanup. Throughout Canada, more than 30,000 volunteers took to river, stream, lake, ocean, and wetland to pick up trash.

Hugh, Diana, and Ted Alley collect garbage to do their part in the "Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup" at a city park in Vancouver. (David Dranchuk photo)

With rain clouds threatening to soak their efforts, they fished food wrappers, styrofoam, plastic bags, and even a piece of scaffolding out of the stream that runs through the park and the surrounding trees.

The strangest thing in the park was found by Christ Church Cathedral parishioners Rebecca Alley, 12, and Ted Alley, 11: two hefty bags full of potting soil! "That's so stupid," said Ted, "why didn't they just dump out the soil and take the bags home?"

"Aquatic garbage is a serious environmental concern," said Tara Taylor, director of Conservation Programs at the Aquarium. "Debris compromises water quality, and threatens thousands of aquatic animals that become injured or killed each year due to ingestion or entanglement."

Last year 20,000 volunteers rid our nation's shorelines of nearly 50,000 kilograms of garbage from 970 kilometers of shoreline. Cleanups took place in communities from British Columbia to Newfoundland, and as far north as the Yukon.

The Aquarium's goal is that the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup will help to change attitudes and behaviors about garbage; to make Canadians think twice before throwing a wrapper out of their car window or `butting out' on the street or beach.

As stewards of our environment, God calls us to care for the earth we call home. Next year, keep your eyes and ears open for your opportunity to participate in this event! To find out more, visit