Clean Ocean Action: Over 1,000 pieces of pandemic-related trash found in beach sweep
Members of the environmental group Clean Ocean Action are preparing to do their bi-annual beach sweep across New Jersey next weekend.
They say that during the last beach sweep in the fall, they found hundreds of items related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 4,000 volunteers who cleaned up garbage at over 40 beaches during the last beach sweep found so much PPE that Clean Ocean Action created a new category for that type of trash.
In total, the sweep pulled out over 1,000 pieces of virus-related trash, including 680 face masks, 92 disposable wipes and 341 unspecified items.
“We try to use cloth masks in general, just to be less wasteful. We try to make sure we throw out our garbage in a garbage can,” says Sejal Patel, of Colonia.
Patel and her children have taken part in beach cleanups before. They have seen plastic bottles and beer cans on the beach. They are making an effort to use less of everything.
“Just putting it in a garbage can or recycling bin. If everyone did their part, it would make a big difference,” says Kena Patel.
There were crowds of people enjoying the good weather on Wednesday at the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk. Many were wearing masks. Clean Ocean Action members say that it doesn’t take much effort to make sure that the PPE and other trash ends up in the waste bin and not on the sand.
Clean Ocean Action has been conducting beach sweeps for 35 years. In the last cleanup, 79% of all items picked up were plastic, with plastic pieces, plastic caps and lids, food and candy wrappers being the most picked-up items.
While there is an effort to ban plastic bags and straws, Clean Ocean Action says people must become less dependent on all things plastic.
"It's getting worse. It's not getting better as we all are shifting to more and more plastic,” the group said in a statement.
Clean Ocean Action says they're worried this trash will get into the ocean and entangle and kill the sea life.
The next beach sweep is on April 17.