WWF-Canada Blog:
Freshwater


Canada’s Dirty Dozen: These 12 items don’t belong on our shores

Last fall, more than 10,891 bags of garbage were collected in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.  The good news is that there is now 99,280 kilograms less garbage out there harming species and their ecosystems.  The bad news is it shouldn’t be there in the first place.  These are the most popular items collected on our shores, or as we call them, the Dirty Dozen!

1.  Cigarette/Cigarette Filters

© Marc Gilbert / adecom.ca

© Marc Gibert / adecom.ca

2.  Food Wrappers

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

3.  Plastic Bottle Caps

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

 4.  Plastic Beverage Bottles

Plastic water bottles collected from a beach.  © Peter Chadwick / WWF-Canon

Plastic water bottles collected from a beach. © Peter Chadwick / WWF-Canon

5.  Beverage Cans

Aluminum drink can in beach sand ©iStock

Aluminum drink can in beach sand © iStock

 6.  Straws, Stirrers

A disposable soda cup with straw ©iStock

A disposable soda cup with straw ©iStock

7.  Plastic Bags

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

8.  Metal Bottle Caps

Bottle cap on the beach ©iStock

Bottle cap on the beach ©iStock

 9.  Plastic, foam packaging

Thrown away Styrofoam takeout carton sitting on the beach.  ©iStock

Thrown away Styrofoam takeout carton sitting on the beach. ©iStock

 10.  Grocery Bags

©iStock

A plastic shopping bag floating in water ©iStock

11.  Plastic Lids

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

© Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

12.  Construction Materials

Wood, insulation, rope, and other items collected by cleanup volunteers © Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

Wood, insulation, rope, and other items collected by cleanup volunteers © Vancouver Aquarium / WWF-Canada

Canada’s shorelines need some extra attention to make sure our waters are healthy for everyone. Sign up for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and find a cleanup near you.  This is a great way to learn about how litter impacts our ecosystem, species and communities, and to make a real difference in the health of your local waters.


  • Alicia

    Not surprised that cigarette butts are so high on the list. Dropping butts is something smokers do almost unthinkingly – even if they’re only a few feet from a ashtray.

  • There is also beach garbage in Taiwan.

  • Terry-Saskatchewan

    Community fines need to be implemented and/or increased to an amount that will hurt the pocket book – $250-$500 as a deterrent to stop littering on our shorelines and parks. We like to think the best of people but it is not the case when we see how lazy they are with the amount of litter that is found on the shorelines. If bylaws were passed so that other people could take pictures of the litterbugs in the act and if possible their car license number and send these pics to the police and/or Bylaw Enforcement Officers with the details of when, where, what time and the litter to enable the police to charge and fine the people with littering. This would be a huge deterrent because no one would know who was taking pictures of who and what and if you are littering you just might be the one in the picture.

    Another thought is instead of a fine of $250-$500, the litterbugs could be assigned community service working on the Shoreline Cleanup. This would enable them to see the exact damage their laziness has caused our wonderful shorelines. Knowledge is power.

    If these ideas are not possible, then the pictures could be posted to social media and a Litterbug Prize of the Month could be awarded to the worst amount of litter left by the people. Perhaps this could shame the people from littering.

    People are just downright lazy, if the trash can is not right beside them, they won’t walk to it. I totally agree with Bob Rodkin.

    I full-heartedly support the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and wish everyone who is participating, the best of luck in their endeavours.

  • Renate2459

    A great many cruise lines dump there garbage overboard which should be highly illegal with heavy fines. All this stuff eventually washes up on shore –

  • Not that there was ever any good excuse or reason but it’s hard to believe in this day and age, with so much focus and education on our environment, that some people are so ignorant or, perhaps more likely, just plain lazy. Pretty sad really.

  • 234A Rigby- Easton

    So much throw away trash…….what is it with people?? Just lazy and uncaring, I think.