It Starts With Me

Each year the intermediate students of our school take part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. We bike or walk down to Point Homes, a long, rocky beach in our area, and work together to pull garbage off the beach.

I shared this video with the class the day before our Cleanup.

We had a discussion about the impact Danielle and her family were having on the environment, one small action at a time. Rather than complaining about the condition of the beach, she did something about it. She even managed to change the rules: now smoking is not allowed on the community beach.

It continues with us. The Shoreline Cleanup is a group activity that takes place all over the country and it’s satisfying because it makes a difference. Our parent community is very supportive and many volunteer to join us.

We were fortunate it was a nice day, so the walk and ride were pleasant. There was a lot of garbage to deal with, but that’s why we did it as a team.

Walk Ride Fan out Big! small Recording Teams Finding low Finding high Foam Many hands The Pile. Back to school.

Huzzahnians, I was not with you when you did the Shoreline Cleanup this year. What was is like? Did you find anything unusual? What did you notice about the types of garbage that were turning up? How did it feel to do the cleanup?

And visitors, do you do something similar where you live? How are you making a difference in your community?

Thanks for your comments!


  1. Hi I’m Cooper. I think that the idea to do a beach clean up is terrific. When me and my family go to the beach we also clean up things we see on the beach. Like trash and other things that shouldn’t be there. I loved the video. It was so interesting, and I didn’t know that many cigars were left on the beach. I also enjoyed the pictures you posted on how you got to the beach and what you did there. Thank you for the inspiring video and post!


    1. You are welcome, Cooper!
      I too wonder why there are so many cigarettes on the beach. If people really knew the impact would they change their behaviour?
      Take care,
      ~Ms. S.

  2. Hey Mrs. Smith,
    I think that this is such a great message. I remember when I was about 9-10 years old on “Earth Day” I went around my local area and picked up all the garbage such as: Trash bags, soda cups and bottles, wrappers. I was so excited to do it too. Since then I haven’t really thought too much about it but now that I’ve seen this video I am for sure going to keep an eye out for trash. If you could help me by visiting my blog that would be awesome.

    1. Hi Heather, there is a Heather in my class and she will have her own blog soon, so come back and check out Huzzah! again soon. We also do a neighbourhood cleanup around Earth Day. I have noticed that most garbage is packaging made of plastic: it is light, blows away and clings to bushes or tumble into ditches. It can plug drains and eventually get into the ocean. I wonder if most litter is accidental–did it blow away from a picnic? Or are people just too lazy to reach for the bin. Better yet, could we make a change by choosing more re-usable packaging.
      Always something to think about!
      ~Ms. Smith

  3. Hi Ms.Smith,
    That was a really great post, I loved the pictures and how you showed what our main priority was with the pictures, and that there was a lot of big garbage but the garbage that made the biggest impact was the smaller stuff. I know that I really enjoyed doing the shoreline cleanup, mostly because it is like a walk on the beach with friends but we are also cleaning up the beach and helping the environment one step at a time.
    I hope you have a good day.
    ~ Heather

    1. Hi Heather, thank you for your friendly comment. I am having a lovely day, thank you. I find that most times when I gather with a group of people for a common purpose, I enjoy both their company and the work.
      ~Ms. Smith

  4. Hi Ms. Smith,
    I think the amount of garbage people throw out is amazing but garbage also comes from different countries like from the tsunami in Japan. I found a tennis ball from Japan and it was a black coulour! But I think it is good for poeple to go out and clean up other people’s waste and if you do then good for you

  5. I think cleaning beaches is great thing to do. It helps the wild life and sea creatures; it even helps the ocean. It makes the world a cleaner and better place.

  6. Hi Ms. Smith,

    I came to Brooklyn when I was in grade 2 at the month of January and ever since I got to be an intermediate I’ve been doing the shoreline clean up. What I think is that the shoreline clean up really help the environment so that is why I do it and because it’s just a nice thing too do. But I wish I didn’t have to go in 2 years!

    I hope I get to do it again.


  7. Hi Mrs.Smith,

    The video was inspirational. Every person can be a hero, maybe not for humans but there are always the animals. Garbage can sometimes help the environment, but also it could damage and ruin the area around us. The amount of garbage they picked as a school was amazing. “It starts with me” was a great title, it states the truth! Everyone has a chance to become something special.


  8. Hi Mrs. Smith,

    The Shoreline Cleanup was really fun this year! I wasn’t there last year because I was sick, so it was nice to do it again. This year, I saw something I have never seen at a beach before,……. a baby porpoise! At first I thought it was a fish. It was about the size of a big salmon, but much wider, and there was scrapes all over its back. Have you ever seen a porpoise on the beach?

    ~ Kaiya.W

    1. Hi Kiaya, I talked to Mrs. Heselgrave and we have reported the dead dolphin/porpoise to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. No, I have never seen a marine mammal on the beach before. I wonder how it died.
      ~Ms. S

  9. Hi Ms. Smith!

    I think that video is really inspiring. 20 minutes of clean up can add up a long way! When the class watched that video before the day of the Shoreline Clean Up, It really inspired me to help so that night before the Shoreline Clean Up, my dad and I went on the street behind my house and collected 391 cigarette butts in a space of 400 meters. Its a shame because almost every step I took there was a cigarette butt. I put them all in pop bottle and brought it to school the next day. I wish you could of been there when I brought it in! At the Shoreline Clean Up it was like foam palace! there was tons of foam around us! I found bones wrapped up in tissue! I felt great at the clean up because I knew that everyone was helping the environment!


  10. Hi ms. Smith’s

    I really enjoyed watching this video how in 20 minutes you could pick up over 200 hundred cigarettes. I think now I and other people will start picking up garbage on the beech and all over. I also wonder were a lot of that garbage came from. Like did it come from across the ocean or did some person go and dump it or what.

  11. Hi Ms.Smith,
    I really thought that there was more garbage then any year I have gone. I am really happy that our government realizes how some beaches can get super polluted with any type of garbage, my best friend even found a Febreze car freshener thing. I hope more people will realize it is awful to litter.

  12. Hi Ms Smith!

    I think this is very inspirational and I hope this spreads a long way so that more and more poeple can see and hopefully make a change.

  13. Hi Mrs.Smith,
    I thought it was lots of fun to do the shoreline clean up. I liked hanging out with my friends while cleaning up the beach. We found some pretty wacky garbage. It feels good to do your part to keep the earth clean. I also like the photo of me and Brett in the bushes. The only part I didn’t like about the shoreline clean up was biking back up the hill :)!

  14. Hey Ms Smith
    I really liked this post even though I was not there.I still really liked to know what happend. Till next time. ~Carlos

  15. Hi ms.Smith

    When I was at the shoreline clean up I found,

    2 lighters
    18 plastic bags
    142 cigarette butts …
    I think that shoreline clean up was a great success.
    What do you think?

    ~ Brayden

  16. Hi Mrs. Smith. I though that this video was very inspiring and slightly disturbing that so many people smoke and just throw it onto the beach. I found that it was crazy that in 20 minutes a day for a month, they found over 10 000 cigarettes if I remember correctly. It was a great video to get us excited about the shoreline clean up. I really enjoyed the shoreline clean up this year. There wasn’t a lot of garbage this year, which is good! Someone found a car tire. There was also a dead baby porpoise and it looked like it had been stuck in a boats propeller. We also found a lot of Styrofoam which isn’t good because Styrofoam doesn’t break down so it will be there until someone picks it up. I think that the shoreline clean up is a great tradition and it was great seeing almost everyone participating. What do you think about the shoreline clean up?

    1. Hi Jessica, I think the clean-up is a significant tradition at Brooklyn. I was very sad about the porpoise. I think I will ask the Marine Detective if she can tell us anything about the porpoise.
      ~Ms. S.

  17. Hi Ms. smith,

    I think the amount of garbage that was on the beach was disgusting. People throw their garbage wherever they want on the beaches and they don’t care. So I loved cleaning up our beaches.


  18. Hi Mrs. Smith
    I am so exited to share with you what I found! On Wednesday September 25th 2013… I rode my bike down to the beach with all of the students from my class. The whole school went that day other than the kindergartners. Our class was the second class to go. Down at the beach my group found a dead porpoise! We found lots of foam, plastic pieces and even lots of rope. There was lots of repetitive pieces of garbage. I felt very good about doing the clean up because I was making a difference in the community!
    Have you ever found any interesting thing from all the yeas you have done the clean up?

    1. Hi Tiana, I think one of my classes found part of an electric piano one year. So far we have not seen any dead marine mammals. I saw the picture-1 what a sad thing.
      ~ Ms. S.

  19. Once we got into our groups it was fun to find the garbage. One unusual thing we found was a dead goose it was covered in flies, it made me a little sad. When we went back we had a big picture taken and then went back to the school.

  20. Hi Ms. Smith
    The overall experience was great as you also feel really good about yourself by making a difference. The weirdest thing I found was a stash of 100 plus cigarettes. I found out that the best place to find cigarette buts were near the benches. This year I found that there was more cigarettes than last year.

    From Evan L.

  21. Hello Mrs.Smith
    I think it’s very nice relaxing feeling when I clean up. Do you think it’s relaxing to clean? We found some weird stuff. For example we found a porpoise carcass and it was a very sad view. But this is the weird part: we also found a dead bird. Well I hope your ok.


  22. Hi Mrs.Smith,
    I think shoreline cleanup was fun but it was kind of sad when we came across the dead Canada goose. The bike ride was pretty hard going up that GIANT hill. I wonder how hard other kids thought it was?


  23. Dear Ms. Smith

    It’s really cool how one person can make a ripple effect and change the world like that. We should all try that and see if it really works.


  24. if you start something anther people will follow what you do so don’t start something that will be bad to the world.

  25. Hello Huzzahnians!
    First I’d like to thank many of you for your very thoughtful comments on Hey, Kids!
    Secondly, I want to commend you on your beach clean up. I had no idea that 40% of all trash on a beach is from cigarettes. The image of the cigarette butt in the glass jar of water was very powerful as well. It certainly makes you think about what the fish are ingesting and then, in turn, what the people who eat the fish are ingesting. Thank you for doing your part to help us all. You certainly accumulated a large pile of debris on your clean-up day. How do you think a tire gets on the beach? What other surprising items did you find?
    We live in a beach community as well, and I have participated in a clean-up day when I was a Girl Scout leader, but I have not followed through in a regular was as Danielle and her family do. They are inspiring.
    We are going to forge ahead with our plans to help supply drinking water to families in South Sudan. We will let you know how our efforts move along in that regard. If you have not read The Long Walk to Water, I recommend it.
    Keep up the great work, at school and on the beach! Keep on doing good!
    ~Mrs, Donofrio

    1. Hi Mrs. Donofrio, as always we appreciate your friendly thoughtful comments.
      We are about to experience an influx of debris from the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Already garbage (and recently a boat) has begun to wash ashore on the west coast of Vancouver Island. People are working together to try to return personal items to the Japanese and keep the beach ecosystems as clean as possible.
      Thank you for recommending The Long Walk to Water. I will look for it. Your work to make a difference in the lives of others will bring positive change where hope and the essential ingredients for life are needed.
      Best wishes to you all,
      Ms. Smith

  26. Hello again!
    I am now reading through your many comments, and I see the answer to my question! You once found and electric piano and this year you found a porpoise. So sad. I should have read all the comments before commenting myself. Tsk, tsk.
    When my son was four-years-old he found a dead seagull on the beach. I was walking in front of him carrying his baby sister over some rocks, and he kept calling me, “Mama, mama, look!” Without turning around I kept saying, “Wait a minute, Mitch. Let me get over these rocks.” When we got over the rocks, I turned around and said, “Okay, now what did you want to show me?” And he proudly held the bird up over his head, “This!” To which I replied, “Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!”
    Since then we have not found any more dead birds, but we sometimes find dead fish on our beaches. We occasionally get Red Tide here. Have you ever heard of that? It’s a type of algae that turns the water a reddish color and kills the marine life. It’s very unpleasant because all the dead fish smell horrible. Red tide closes the beaches for days. It also affects the air quality and a lot of people develop coughs.
    So long again!
    ~Mrs. Donofrio

    1. Quite a story, Mrs. D! I can picture it. Yes, Red Tide is an annual occurrence here but it doesn’t kill marine life, it just affects shellfish–not killing them but making them deadly to eat. I wondered if it is the same thing on both coasts so I did some research. Unfortunately it’s not really clear, but certainly the results in Florida are much more severe. I read it killed over 170 manatees last spring. It sounds like the affects on human health are pretty terrible too.
      Unlike the garbage on the beach, it doesn’t seem there is much people can do about it.
      Take care,
      ~ Ms. Smith

  27. Wow! We have been learning how to be good citizens and help our community, and you have given us such a great example! Thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to share it with my students!

    Mrs. Felter
    Windsor Park Elementary School
    Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.

    1. Hi Mrs. Felter, I know you have beautiful beaches on the North Carolina coast. If you ever take your class there you’ll have a great opportunity to spread a little goodness by cleaning up the beach!
      Thanks for visiting,
      ~ Ms. Smith

  28. Dear Huzzah, Congratulations on your efforts with the Shoreline Clean-up and the difference you have made to our beaches! Great work:) I love the video of the work that Danielle and Sarah are doing and will share it with my class!

    1. Hi Mrs. Twin,
      Our students really take pride in doing the Shoreline Cleanup. I think the video of Danielle and Sarah is very inspiring and I am so surprised it’s not viewed by more people.
      Happy Thanksgiving!
      Ms. Smith

  29. Your shoreline cleanup is a really fantastic activity! It is great to see the kids doing something so good for the environment and our community. Well done!

    1. Thank you for the compliment. I think all people like to have the opportunity to make a difference. “Doing Good” together is especially satisfying. Thanks for visiting, Darian’s Dad!

  30. Hello Ms. Smith,
    I can’t believe that how much junk you guys pulled off of that beach! I still feel so bad that I was not there to help. Instead I was sick at home. Plus, there were a lot and when I mean a lot I mean a lot of hands, dude. P.S. Nice blog!

  31. Hi Ms. Smith

    I think that it’s great that everyone was taking part in making the world a cleaner place. I hope that even more schools will decide to take part in the Shoreline Cleanup. I wonder how many schools currently do the Shoreline Cleanup?


    1. Hi Sara,
      A quick chat with Mrs. Google told me that there were 58,500 participants across Canada last year. The information here really tells the story of the success of this group effort. What do you think of the statistics?
      ~Ms. Smith

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