Rivers are like arteries that flow into the heart, the ocean. The Global Alert tool links constituents of inland watersheds on a global basis with the ocean.
Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems are critical to all life on earth and provide necessary services, including food security, resources for economic growth, recreation and tourism, all of which can hinder or benefit the welfare of the coastline itself. Roughly 11 billion pounds of plastic enters the oceans each year. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has estimated that over 70% of marine debris starts out on land. From there it makes its way into the lakes, rivers and streams that form an extensive network that can carry trash across continents and straight into the heart of the world's ocean. Floating trash has no geographic or political boundaries, so solutions must involve scalable international collaboration, yet be local in scope and reach.
Riverbanks are actually inland coastlines. Normal coastlines defined by the ocean total about 217,000 miles, however, when you consider that each river has two "riverbanks," each bank is also a part of the coastline. This inland coastline can reach far into the heart of a country and can be a conduit for floating trash to reach the ocean. By totaling the length of the riverbanks from the world's 20 longest rivers alone, we add an additional 86,000+ miles of "coastline" connecting to many of our communities, which is equal to the distance of going around the world more than three times!