Totals have finally trickled in for Coastal Cleanup Day 2011 and things are not looking optimistic for our final numbers. Although we had 7,608 volunteers which cleaned up over 145,000 pounds of trash (that’s 19/lbs per person!) these were much lower numbers than previous year’s. We are still contemplating all the reasons why we had a reduced amount of volunteers than in the past. Was it the unfortunate cloudy weather? Do we need to improve our outreach? Or are people just less likely to volunteer in the economic recession?
There are many differing opinions out there on the World Wide Web as to whether or not volunteerism is in decline. Data from differing countries shows conflicting answers to this issue. Such as the UK, where their Annual Citizenship Survey revealed the lowest levels of volunteerism in 10 years. But in contrast, the 2010 Volunteering in America report showed we had the largest increase in volunteering since 2003. It seems that there are a number of different economic and community factors that come into consideration when volunteering time such as home ownership, high school education and unemployment, to name a few.
One point of interest the Volunteering in America report showed was a direct correlation between the unemployment rate and volunteerism. Since California currently has the second highest unemployment rate in the US, this could be to blame for our declining volunteer numbers in California and San Diego County. Although this is a huge factor, Coastal Cleanup Day was still an enormous success and we were able to reach more cleanup sites than ever before!
Thank you to all the volunteers at this year’s event and we greatly appreciate your donated time and feedback. As we are constantly trying to progress and advance each year, what are some suggestions you have to improve Coastal Cleanup Day?