Thursday, May 10, 2012

Introducing Rozalia Project: Cleaning Vermont's Waterways

 For Immediate Release

May 10, 2012

Contact: Rachael Miller
Rozalia Project: Cleaning VT’s Waterways
Rozalia Project: Cleaning Vermont's Waterways

Rozalia Project: Cleaning Vermont's Waterways has removed 24,993 pieces of of trash, totaling 11,303 pounds from 6 miles of shoreline along the banks of Lake Champlain and the Winooski river since September 2011.

Cleaning Vermont''s Waterways is a partnership between Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean (a Vermont based 501(c)(3) non profit) and Vermont's Department of Labor to cleanup Vermont's waterways by putting the long term unemployed or people affected  by the flooding of spring 2011 or Hurricane Irene back to work.

Cleaning Vermont's Waterways is currently employing 14 people in the Burlington and Waterbury areas, with 6 more workers coming online in the Middlebury area on Monday, May 14. A work crew for the White River area of central Vermont is being recruited to start May 21. The work crews remove trash and debris along waterways affected by the spring floods of 2011 and Hurricane Irene. In addition to the paid crews, volunteer cleanups run every 2 weeks through the summer and fall with 200 volunteers to date.
Cleaning Vermont's Waterways has the support and help of the Vermont Community Foundation, Ben and Jerry's Community Action Team, Pomerleau Real Estate, Seventh Generation, Mad River Valley Rotary, VT Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Winooski Valley Park District and Burlington Parks and Recreation. Additional partners are joining the program weekly.

Cleaning Vermont's Waterways has several project highlights to date: 
  • Our Waterbury work crew removed 315 tires from the banks of the Winooski in two days
  • On Green Up Day, 40+ volunteers removed 4,157 pieces of trash weighing 596 pounds from the Burlington waterfront at the Community sailing Center
  • Each of our work crews in Burlington and Waterbury are averaging over 1000 pieces of trash removed from our waterways per day
All the removed trash is recorded by type and weight, recycled or disposed responsibly. This data will become part of the first comprehensive marine debris study conducted in Vermont, providing critical baseline data, trend indicators and marine debris hotspots.

Some of the data already recorded is shocking:

  • 4165 pieces of trash removed per mile of  Vermont's waterways
  • 1883 pounds of trash removed per mile of Vermont's  waterways
  • 165 pieces of micro plastic (<5mm) in a 6 inch square sample on North Beach, Burlington. This includes plastic pellets and plastic beads used in the cosmetic industry
  • 315 tires removed from 1 mile section of Winooski river in Waterbury
  • 1000 pieces of styrofoam removed from Derway Island at the mouth of the Winooski river

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean’s Executive Director, Rachael Z Miller, notes "Marine debris is the sleeping dragon of Lake Champlain's pollution problems. Pieces of plastic and foam are filling Vermont's waterways from a variety of sources. These pieces degrade and breakdown into ever smaller pieces while leaching toxins and adsorbing persistent organic pollutants. As these pieces become smaller, they are ingested by a wide array of creatures in Vermont’s marine ecosystem and can end up in our human food chain. It is a real ticking time bomb. Trash and marine debris collection and removal is a critical issue for our freshwater and all marine environments."

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean Founder, James Lyne, states, "Our rivers, lakes and oceans are being poisoned and choked by marine debris. This is a worldwide  environmental problem. It is great that the Cleaning Vermont's Waterway's program is showing the world how government at the state and federal level, in partnership with a nonprofit like the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean and with the support of local businesses, organizations and volunteers, can successfully tackle a major environmental problem to make a significant positive impact on the health of Vermont's waterways - one piece of trash at at time."

For more information, high resolution photos of Rozalia Project’s work in Vermont, or to arrange an interview or site visit, please contact:

Rachael Z. Miller, Founder/Exec.  Director
Rozalia Project: Cleaning VT's Waterways
Mobile: 802-578-6120
Winter office: 802-767-3784

Photo Gallery on Pinterest:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: Inspiration to Action

This is the 9th in a series of blog posts contributed by Rozalia Project interns for 2012. Today's comes from Sarah Kollar who is currently studying Biology, Environmental Studies and Spanish at Eckerd College in Florida. The assignment was to write about marine debris from each intern's own perspective.

Given the condition of today’s oceans,  I would imagine that my personal experience with marine debris is similar to what others have witnessed. Like most, my story begins at the beach. I had the incredible opportunity to attend a study abroad school in the Bahamas during high school. I lived for four months on the island of Eleuthera, located in the Gulf of Mexico, on the edge of the Atlantic. This experience taught me many valuable lessons and opened my eyes to important environmental issues, much of that learning and growth occurring outside of the classroom. My classmates and I would often explore the island in our free time. Bike rides to local beaches and kayak trips along the coast gave us direct exposure to the island’s waters, which, we learned, have a profound effect on the locals’ way of life.

Eleuthera is one of the outer islands in a chain of some 700 islands that comprise the country of the Bahamas. While its tourism industry is less developed than many of its sister islands and its beaches, thus, see less human activity,  I discovered its coastlines are far from pristine. We encountered all sorts of debris along the shores, from construction hats to nearly unrecognizable specks of plastic. It appeared as though the island were acting like a net, sieving debris out of the Gulf Stream as it flowed past. I often wondered: If this little island collects this much trash, how much is still out in our oceans? This unsettling question haunted me long after my semester in Eleuthera was complete. In my home state of Michigan, I tend to think of the same scenario occurring in the Great Lakes. Every waterway and every corner of our oceans seems to have been touched by humans, and our waste. Is this the legacy we want to leave behind? Hopefully not! 

Excitingly, the issue of debris in our seas has recently gained national and international attention. In 2011, The Ocean Conservancy launched a major Trash Free Seas movement at the Annual Meeting of The Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. With the help of projects dedicated to cleaning up our oceans, like the Rozalia Project, we are taking steps in the right direction to conserve and protect our planet’s valuable water resources. Such initiatives give me hope,  but as I now study Environmental Studies and Biology at Eckerd College, I am realizing the immensity of this problem and other global environmental issues that will not see improvements without effort and participation by all. Education, prevention, and clean up work at the local level are incredibly important. Whether we are land-locked, city dwellers, or live along the coast, there are actions that we can all take, since in fact we are all responsible. Below are a few simple ways you (or anyone!) can help prevent trash from reaching waterways and ultimately the ocean. I am thrilled to be joining Rozalia Project this summer to learn more about the new technology surrounding marine debris pick-up and contribute to its tremendous clean-up efforts in the Atlantic. It is a field that is expanding and will be more and more prominent in the future. May we leave a legacy behind in our oceans and world that we can be proud of! 

Courtesy of Thrifty & Green:
  1. Use a trash can with a lid. How easy!
  2. Drink tap water in a reusable bottle.
  3. Buy smarter to reduce the amount of manufactured items winding up in the ocean. 
  4. Take along your reusable coffee mug, picnic supplies or shopping bags (Americans alone throw away approximately 100 billion plastic bags a year!).
  5. Participate in a coastal cleanup near you.
For more information on Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas initiative: (