It’s the ultimate environmental sink or swim. Join Cleveland Metroparks, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization for the fifth annual Great Lake Erie Boat Float on Saturday, September 7 at 10 a.m. at Edgewater Park in Lakefront Reservation.
The Great Lake Erie Boat Float focuses on repurposing plastics into an eco-friendly boat. You can make a traGreat Lake Erie Boat Floatditional style boat with a plastic bottle hull and oars made of crutches or you can make a boat that looks like a swan. They can be simple rafts or resemble a giant, orange hamster wheel made out of laundry detergent bottles, as long as they float! Plastic bottles, cat litter containers, milk jugs, and other materials that can be found around the house or workplace, all become building materials. The only limit is your imagination and creativity.
The Boat Float was inspired by Dr. Marcus Eriksen, founder of The 5 Gyres Institute, which is dedicated to reducing plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes. In 2008, Eriksen built a raft made of 15,000 plastic bottles, aptly named JUNK, and sailed from California to Hawaii.
“We took that idea and, in collaboration with Eriksen, brought it to Cleveland,” said Cathi Lehn, program manager for Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization.
Cleveland City councilmen Matt Zone and Jay Westbrook will judge boats in four categories: Fastest Boat, Best Use of Recyclable Materials, Most Artistic Style and Li’l Sailors for children 12 years and younger. All participants must sign a liability waiver and wear a lifejacket to be in the water. Registration is required by August 30. A beach cleanup, coordinated by the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and Drink Local. Drink Tap., follows the awards ceremony. Spectators are welcome to watch the float (or sink).
Plastic debris is a problem for aquatic habitats. Large pieces of plastic litter such as bottles and six-pack soda rings, break down into fragments or microplastics and threaten animal species that mistake the bits of plastic for food. Recent studies have found that Lake Erie has a high concentration of microplastics. Help bring awareness of plastic pollution by participating in beach cleanups or picking up garbage in your neighborhood.
The Boat Float is partnered with RES Polyflow, a company that specializes in converting difficult-to-recycle plastics and rubber wastes into petroleum. All boats participating in the float have the option to be recycled after the event using the company’s alternative energy process.
“RES Polyflow rethinks the use of technology and brings awareness to the problem of plastics on land and in our water by coming up with new solutions,” Lehn said.
Edgewater Beach is located at 6700 Memorial Shoreway, off of OH-2 in Lakefront Reservation in Cleveland.
For more information about the Boat Float, visit lakeerieboatfloat.org or contact Cathi Lehn at email@example.com.