You know that line from the Billy Joel song? “Hypodermics on the shore…” Not too long ago, that used to be fact. All sorts of garbage and medical waste could be found on New Jersey’s beaches!
Things are MUCH cleaner these days, thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people. These days, you’re more likely to find an empty soda can in the sand, or the remains of someone’s lunch. And let’s be honest… that is still kind of gross. With the tiniest bit of extra effort, you can help keep New Jersey’s beaches clean while you’re visiting — and make it a nicer place for the folks who come after you. Maybe thirty years from now, soda bottles and sandwich wrappers will be a thing of the past, too.
- Take out what you bring in. It’s a great rule for the parks; it’s a great rule for the beach. If you bring drinks onto the beach, bring the empty bottles off the beach when you’re done for the day!
- When you get to the beach, scout out the nearest garbage can. It may be up on the boardwalk; there may be big drums on the beach.
- Pack an extra plastic bag for garbage. At the end of the day, it’s easy enough to find a garbage can and make a deposit.
- Don’t litter. Take the extra few steps to toss trash in the can, or store it in an empty plastic bag.
- Don’t let your friends litter!
- Don’t let your family litter!
- Don’t think that just because something is biodegradable (like a paper plate) that it’s okay to just leave it on the beach. It’s not!
- When you’re on the boardwalk, make sure your garbage goes into cans; otherwise, it could end up on the beach!
- Don’t tip over trash cans — it’s not fun or funny.
- Try to pick up dropped food, too. Unless, of course, you like being mobbed by screaming sea gulls. Even if they clean up the spilled snacks, you’ve got a new icky problem: bird poop!
- Make sure to collect all your toys and belongings at the end of a day on the beach. Abandoned towels and lost shovels are just another name for beach litter.
- Use the restrooms — what goes in the water ends up on the beaches. Yuck!
Clean Ocean Action is a group that wants our beaches and ocean to be as clean as possible, both for full-time residents and visitors. At least twice a year (often in spring and fall) you can join a beach clean up and help get rid of trash that has ended up on the beach. But you don’t have to wait for Clean Ocean Action to do a beach clean up! Why not get up extra early one morning and do a mini-beach clean up of your own! Give everyone a plastic grocery bag and a pair of work gloves and see what you can find. It is good exercise to be out and walking in the fresh air, and you’ll get the GREAT feeling of doing something to help out the community — and the earth.
Think of it this way: if every single person who visited the beach left just ONE piece of trash behind… we’d quickly be buried. And if every single person who visited the beach picked up just ONE piece of trash… the beach will continue to be a beautiful resource and destination for everyone.