Rachel Schoeler - October 24th

Environment   Oct 26, 2017 by Rachael Bell-Irving

Manager of Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Rachel received her B.Sc in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of British Columbia and has been working in the environmental non-profit sector ever since. Prior to working with The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup team she worked with the Stanley Park Ecology Society, Fraser Riverkeeper and Stand.earth. She is a dedicated water advocate standing up for our natural right to swimmable water and clean shorelines through work and volunteer opportunities as well as sport. In 2014 she swam over 30km across the Georgia Strait to raise awareness about swimmable water in Vancouver and surrounding areas

Q: In 2014 you swam across the Georgie Straight, at a distance of 30 km. How did you come up with this idea?

A: As an open water swimmer and clean water advocate I was looking to challenge myself in a meaningful way. I had met a few people who swam the Georgia Strait a few years earlier and was inspired by their stories so I decided just to go for it! I learned a lot about myself throughout training and the actual swim itself that will stay with me forever. I also was able to use the swim as a way to connect with my community around swimmable water and start a conversation about the importance of clean, safe water.

Q:What is one of your most memorable shoreline clean-up moments?

A: There are so many amazing shoreline cleanup moments! One of my most memorable shoreline cleanups was at Gill Road along the Fraser River in Chilliwack where nearly 300 volunteers removed over 10 tonnes of garbage. At this cleanup it wasn’t the weight of trash or the number of people that was most memorable but the different groups of people who attended. We had young families, government groups, environmental groups, youth sports teams, hikers, ATV groups and many more that came together to stand up for their shoreline. It was the first time that I really appreciated how our shorelines connect our community and how many user groups can carry a shared passion for their recreational areas and shorelines.

Q: What advice do you have for those who are hesitant to start/join a shoreline cleanup?

A: Go for it! Shoreline Cleanups are an easy yet extremely impactful way to help your environment/local shorelines and connect with your community. Keep it simple for your first one if you’re feeling a bit nervous. Take your close friends or family members out to a nearby shoreline with a garbage bag, gloves and data cards (which can be downloaded from our website shorelinecleanup.ca). Once you’ve started it will be hard to stop!

Q: Why is it important for youth to be aware and involved in caring for their shoreline? 

A: It’s incredibly important for youth to be aware and involved in caring for their shorelines because you have a powerful voice. Shoreline litter and marine debris are the biggest issues facing our oceans today. We need passionate, informed and creative thinkers to protect our shorelines and waterways for years to come.

Q: Any exciting projects on the horizon? 

A: Stay tuned in 2018 as we continue to dig into our litter data and look forward to our 25th year of cleaning Canadian shorelines 

Do you have any more questions for Rachel? Comment below!

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