Beach garbage: N.S. woman captures shoreline cleanups for social media

Click to play video: 'Capturing Coastline Cleanups on Camera'
Capturing Coastline Cleanups on Camera
Global’s Eilish Bonang connects with Karen Jenner, the woman behind the social media page Nova Scotia Beach Garbage Awareness, to talk about her work documenting what she finds on the Bay of Fundy shorelines. – Mar 16, 2023

A Nova Scotia woman is chronicling her journey of cleaning up garbage and debris from the Bay of Fundy shoreline.

Karen Jenner, from Lakeville, N.S., says beach-cleaning is something she’s always done with her family before it became her passion.

“We went to the beach a lot with our kids,” she said. “To keep them busy while we were there… we would just tell them to find a rope and they could put anything on the rope that had a hole in it. That might be another piece of rope that had a loop in it, or a container that had a handle.

“They would be quite amused dragging this long rope around.”

Read more: Giant right whale sculpture on the move for shoreline cleanups

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The family would then bring the ropes home and dispose of what wasn’t recyclable.

Several years ago, Jenner began going to beaches herself to collect more garbage — starting with debris from lobster traps.

“I quickly had 500 of them… and I found that I quite enjoyed doing that, so I started collecting other things.”

Jenner said she was surprised with the items she was finding along shorelines, and thought others might be too. That’s when she began documenting her findings on social media.

Her Facebook page now has more than 5,000 followers, with each post getting dozens of interactions.

This week, Jenner shared she single-handedly collected 3,143 plastic packing straps from the Bay of Fundy shoreline in just two months — and 61,160 plastic straps since March 2018.

Fishing gear is what she finds the most of, some of which is Canadian and some American, she said.

“People are surprised, they’re amazed,” Jenner said. “For other people to see the same thing… it’s quite striking.”

Read more: Volunteers across N.S. take part in province-wide Mother’s Day shoreline cleanup

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Jenner said it’s rewarding to remove as much garbage as she does. But knowing there’s a lot more she can’t get to can be discouraging.

She hopes her work inspires others to help clean up Nova Scotia’s shorelines. The work, she said, is simple.

“Any time you’re at the beach if you see things that shouldn’t be there, and it’s usually plastic, pick it up,” she pleaded.

“Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be big… anything helps.”

— With files from Global News Morning’s Eilish Bonang. 

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