Shore Sweep: South Clubs Unite for Annual Day of Environmental Clean-Up


Charley Sarmiento/The Birdfeed

Shore Sweep annual event at Lake Lanier in Cumming, GA on Sept. 24, 2022. A group of Students from South Forsyth High School walked around the shore and picked up pieces of trash they found scattered around.

Charley Sarmiento, Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 24, a variety of South Forsyth High School’s clubs came together at Bald Ridge Marina, Lake Lanier, to participate in the annual Shore Sweep event. Beginning at 8 am and going on until 1 pm, volunteers explored the shores of Lake Lanier to collect and clean up any trash they found. 

A substantial volume of volunteers and facilitators woke up before 8 am on a Saturday morning to help clean up the local environment. Adults and youth alike met up at a set of simple but efficient booths. After checking in with one of the adult facilitators, students and other volunteers lined up to grab complimentary water bottles, snacks, trash bags, gloves and a free Shore Sweep t-shirt.

Once an adult went through a safety talk about the dos and do nots, the organizers sent the volunteers on their way. Facilitators directed those who had access to transportation to other parts of Lake Lanier while others formed groups and walked along the shores at that location. 

According to the Lake Lanier Shore Sweep website, this year marks the 34th annual Shore Sweep event to occur. Over time, trash has accumulated on the shores of Lake Lanier as a result of human neglect, rain washing roadside trash into the rivers that feed Lake Lanier, and black Styrofoam dock floats becoming loose underneath the deck to either float on the water or washes up on the beaches.

Throughout the course of 34 years, the annual Shore Sweep event has taken out a total of about “2.16 million pounds of trash and debris from Lake Lanier’s shorelines.” On average, the event brings in “140,000 pounds of trash and over 1,000 volunteers annually.”

Jennifer Archer, an employee of the City of Cumming and board member of Keep Forsyth Beautiful, was present at this year’s Shore Sweep. She has been participating in this annual event since 2019.

Archer recommends groups and individuals alike participate in Shore Sweep. “We have a lot of educational groups and nonprofits that come out as well. It’s just a way to bond and spend time together and also do good,” she said. 

Not only does this event promote cleaning up the environment, but it also provides an opportunity for people to participate in their community. 

“It brings a lot of people together for a similar cause,” Archer said. “We mainly have a lot of youth that participate much more than the adult population, which is great. I do feel like it’s great for networking, connections and even just being active in your community.”

Don’t just take Archer’s word for it, though. Many student volunteers described reaping these exact benefits from participating in Shore Sweep.

“I had so much fun. It was really relaxing to do this with my friends so early in the morning by the lake,” said Sahiti Dasari, a sophomore student at South Forsyth High School (SFHS) and member of FBLA and Interact.

Littering and pollution are genuine problems, and even small groups of people coming together to pick up the trash in local areas are small steps in supporting a larger cause.

“It was nice because we got to go out in nature and [do] community service for a place that a lot of people come to,” said Ash Ganapathy, a sophomore at SFHS and member of Interact and HOSA. “I think it was really fun. Especially because we had friends, it was kind of like a hangout as well.”

I would definitely recommend participating in this event when it takes place next year. If not for giving back to the community or spending a relaxing Saturday morning with friends, then for the amusing pieces of trash that you can find. With Archer’s multiple years of experience, it’s not surprising to hear of the outlandish pieces of trash found each year. 

“Every year we pretty much keep up with the biggest item and the weirdest item,” Archer explained. “The biggest non-styrofoam item was a grill, and the weirdest [item] was a sewing machine.”

Take a look at the things found just this year:

Weirdest Items – Shore Sweep by Charlene Joy Sarmiento