Watch Your Step At The Beach, The Weekly Clean Ups Help But Only So Much
We have been doing beach clean ups weekly for a little over two years. If anyone wants to come out and help they are more than welcome. We had thirty people volunteer on Sunday March 18th. That is the most people we have had in a while. Keep that up gang we can use the help. I find that the more we have out there the more trash we find.
If was really cool to walk over the dune after chasing that eagle picture to see all the cars in the parking lot. I know it was a holiday weekend and there tends to be more people here, but there are even more in the summer. Weekends are difficult in the summer, we do these clean ups on Tuesdays. The beach is too crowded already, and sometimes people will give you their trash which is not why we are out there.
Most if not all of the beach trash this time of year washes up from the ocean or blows in over the dunes from inland and route 1 itself. That trash you see along side the road in route 1 and in the median eventually makes it into one of 2 water ways the ocean or the inland bays. Either way it all eventually winds up in the sea.
Yesterday was no exception, we always find trash. Every beach clean up we come away with at least a hundred pounds of trash. If you take all the sand out of the equation it probably weighs less than half that.
Everyone was commenting how clean the beach looked yesterday, and it was pretty clean. “The beach seems awfully clean this week.” … “we have an awful lot of people for such little trash”. Eventually people realized most of the trash was buried. The winds the last few days covered up a lot of the trash that washed up on the beaches. That also showed in the fact we filled three trash bags yesterday. The more people we had, the more efficient it is to find trash. The hardest part is finding the small pieces, that add up the most.
The biggest culprit is small pieces of plastic. Less than the size of a quarter. Bottle caps are numerous, always by the hundreds. We find less cigarette butts in the winter, more in the summer. However since “they” stopped allowing smoking on the walk on town beaches we find less than in summer’s past. The plastic tips of those cigars are numerous. Shotgun shell plugs this time of year all over the place from waterfowl hunting. There should be something about that somewhere. Fishing industry pays into an EPA tax I wonder if shotgun shell plugs are considered in that pollution count? Mylar balloons, don’t get me started.
One thing these clean ups do is allow us to educate many people where this trash comes from and how to decrease the amounts we see. You can use less single use plastic for starters, that will help immensely. Avoid plastic bottles as much as you can by using thermoses and tumblers. Buy glass bottles when you can.
Some of our volunteers go a step ahead with disposal … Alex Eaton “We have found many syringes since October, we bought a Sharps container this week to properly dispose of them”
That is some forward thinking.
1. Most of your beach trash comes from the ocean and in our case the Delaware River and Bay. The currents push that trash that washes down right into our coastline.
2. Storm drains dump a lot of trash in the waterways. If the drains don’t have any kind of catch system then whatever washes into them washes into the ocean.
The roadways are littered with trash and the winds down here move it around as well. Up river a lot of trash makes it into the Delaware River and bay and washes up on our beaches due to the currents.
3. Our recycling program in Delaware is working backwards. Recycle trucks full of loose garbage are strewning it all over the roadways and when that mini dumpster is dumped on a windy day, trash blows right out of the cans. Not bagging our recyclables saves bags, but is allowing a lot of loose trash into the environment. Just look at any field along a major road and even back roads in Sussex county. Especially near the transfer and recycling collection stations. I see a lot of people commenting about this on social media, they have never seen the side of the roads look this bad.
4. It is winter you can’t blame the tourists, they aren’t here. This trash is from the waterways and our own roadsides. Most tourists it seems keep it clean as they can. However not having trash cans in the parks is becoming an issue in several main areas and that needs to be addressed by the state.
People are stacking up trash in the bathrooms in the summer. People are still hanging trash and dog poop bags on dune fences (even in the winter, these are locals).
Some think they are supposed to do that so someone in parks can some along and pick it up after them, nope, take it with you. We need trash collection in certain areas of these parks. The tied up bags get torn up by birds and the trash winds up in the water. Maybe some signs to explain to people that obviously don’t get it, that the parks don’t pick up after them. Sometimes you have to point out the obvious, because common sense is a super power, but being common is free.
5. Never drive or walk barefoot in the wrack line debris. You could step on a sharp object or put a nail through your tire. We have found dozens of hypodermic needles on the beaches over the last few months. No people are not doing drugs on the beach, these are washing up from the ocean trash.
Anyone is welcome to come help at a beach clean up. We do these every week at a different park on Sundays until the summer then we switch to Tuesdays. Usually we just create an event on Facebook. We will try to keep an updated schedule on the website as well.
The next one is Sunday the 24th at 3R’s beach in Delaware Seashore State Park. We will meet in the parking lot at the southside of the inlet. This is one of the easiest beaches to clean it takes about an hour and a half since it is a shorter beach.
“This was our first clean up this week and we had a great time we will be back” … several of our newest volunteers. Come to a clean, up meet cool like minded people, and have some fun while doing a good thing. Sometimes in the spring and summer we spend the day fishing afterwards. Well after a good meal at Iron Hill of course.