NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Since it began, the International Coastal Cleanup has collected more than 350 million pounds of trash with the help of 17 million volunteers.

This month, the city of Norfolk’s Keep Norfolk Beautiful is hosted an International Coastal Cleanup event.

In a Community Chat, program manager Sarah Sterzing and project coordinator Fleta Jackson spoke with Digital Host Sarah Goode about the cleanup event. Watch the full conversation in the video player on this page.

Here are photos from this month’s event, below. A group of 30 volunteers came together to prevent hundreds of pounds of litter from polluting the Chesapeake Bay.

In total, the volunteers collected 350 pounds of trash. They logged items found in the park. Some of the most found items include metal bottle caps and cigarette butts. They also found food and beverage related litter. Keep Norfolk Beautiful says plastics were the third most found item.

They encourage community members to continue the work throughout November. Find out more information, here.

From 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, visit Barraud Park at 2540 Barraud Ave. to join community members in the International Coastal Cleanup. The event is free and all supplies will be provided. Click here to sign-up ahead of time. You can also walk-up and participate. Here is the event flyer, below.

Keep Norfolk Beautiful is the local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.

“We go out into the community and organize volunteers to cleanup litter,” Sterzing said. “We promote recycling and we educate on our impact as individuals, residences and businesses in the city.”

The team is made up of a small staff of three that work with countless volunteers around the city of Norfolk throughout the entire year. They partner with community organizations, faith groups, corporations, civic leagues and residents.

They want it to be beautiful for people visiting or calling the city home.

“We want people to come here and visit,” Sterzing said. “We want people to have their businesses here. Children to enjoy growing up here, and being educated here.”

Events like the International Coastal Cleanup are important for this community, as water-based as it is. Keep Norfolk Beautiful partners with this program for six weeks from mid-September through the end of October.

The worldwide cleanup effort is unique because it does more than picking up litter. It gathers more information.

“For this cleanup it is all about the data,” Jackson said. “Volunteers will actually count and catalogue the type of litter they are collecting.”

For example, they track how many plastic bags, bottle caps or other items are found at a particular location.

It gives them data to find litter trends, which helps them figure out solutions to stop pollution at the source.

Trash cans with lids were added to Lafayette Park as a result of previous findings. Maybe this would offer a solution to litter blown out by weather or from animals.

If you can’t make it to the event, they encourage people to go out on their own as part of the cleanup effort. Use the Clean Swell® app to track your progress and record the items you pick up in your neighborhood.

As to why they partner with programs like the International Coastal Cleanup, it offers a way to unite on a common mission.

“It’s a statewide issue and a worldwide issue,” Jackson said. “To see the efforts that folks from near and far are doing to mitigate the litter and just seeing the impact.”

She said it is beneficial to meet people from around the state and around the world. You can also find out new ways to mitigate problems.

Especially in Norfolk, one phrase Jackson likes to say is you are never more than a quarter-mile away from the Chesapeake Bay. Storm drains from the city go out towards rivers and tributaries that make its way in the Bay.

The organization offers outreach, education and opportunities to the community.

“We are all mission driven,” Sterzing said. “We all want to see a cleaner, stronger, more resilient city.”

Here are some tips to use in your daily life to stop litter at the source, if possible:

  • Avoid buying vegetables or fruits wrapped in plastic.
  • Use reusable bags at the grocery store.
  • Bring trash to cans with lids.
  • If you see litter, safely pick it up and dispose of it.
  • Buy local, and source items from vendors nearby.

Collectively, these steps can make a big difference.

Their next event is the Special Waste Collection Event from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 4. It is an opportunity to throw away difficult items in a safe capacity. Here is the flyer, below.

Find out more about Keep Norfolk Beautiful at the link,