For nearly 20 years, I’ve worked in various roles in Amec Foster Wheeler’s Vancouver office. I am very committed to sustainability and am proud of the steps Vancouver and Amec Foster Wheeler have taken to become more sustainable over the years.

One of the key annual events on the calendar for Vancouver and Amec Foster Wheeler is the Shoreline Cleanup, which is part of the larger International Coastal Cleanup event. Our Vancouver office has participated for over a decade and was one of the first Amec Foster Wheeler offices to hold a Shoreline Cleanup.

Over the years we have had hundreds of volunteers participate in the event and remove tens of thousands (with cigarette butts the most prevalent) of pieces of garbage from our shoreline. With Amec Foster Wheeler’s global reach we’ve also found some rather unique items, which makes you wonder how they ended up there These items have included, a full-set of car keys, the top half of a mannequin, patio chairs, complete bicycles, an old motorcycle, a beach umbrella, a coffee maker, and a stuffed green alligator to list only a few of the more peculiar items found over the years.

The Shoreline Cleanup is always a fun event and a great way to bring families and friends together in the spirit of community support. It is also a time that we are able to interact with the public. Since we usually clean up a beach near a large city, we invariably have people ask who we are and what we are doing. Normally the response is something like ‘that’s fabulous’, or ‘what a wonderful thing to do', or ‘thank you for helping in our community’.

One thing that I always think about during the Shoreline Cleanup is that we are only treating a symptom and not getting to the root of the problem.

As an avid hiker, I have had the opportunity to do a number of multi-day beach hikes. Typically, once we get a few kilometres away from where people have easy access to the beach, the garbage (especially plastic water bottles) seems to multiply because people don’t always clean up their waste.

Although this problem isn’t an easy one to solve, I believe it begins with each of us doing the right thing and making smart choices such as using re-fillable water bottles, purchasing things with less packaging, and, of course, always disposing of garbage and cigarette butts properly.

I would encourage everyone to get involved in their local Shoreline Cleanup. It’s a great way to do something good for your community, spend time with friends, family, and co-workers, and feel good about yourself at the same time.