BEACH SWEEPS TARGET PLASTIC BLIGHT

In addition to the mass beach cleanups it organizes twice a year — including one scheduled for tomorrow — a really admirable aspect of Clean Ocean Action is that it maintains a highly detailed log of all the garbage that its volunteers remove from the state’s coasts and waterways.

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Why keep such minutiae? Because facts are data that the organization uses to make its case to state and federal legislators in fighting all forms of ocean pollution. And no morsel of data, it seems, is too small to merit the group’s attention.

Here’s the lead from an Associated Press story, via the Asbury Park Press:

What do a plunger, a playpen, a jockstrap, fake plastic breasts, a pregnancy test and five pairs of underwear have in common?

They were among nearly 260,000 items of sometimes bizarre trash that either was left or washed up on New Jersey’s beaches last year. The total: about 40 tons.

The tally included 32,328 plastic caps and lids. Plastics have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, as indicated by this tally, also from 2006:

— Food wrappers or bags (27,147)

— Beverage bottles (15,373)

— Miscellaneous pieces of plastic (14,479)

— Straws or coffee stirrers (14,326)

— Plastic foam pieces (13,286)

— Shopping bags (6,349)

— Eating utensils (5,902)

— Six-pack rings (5,673)

— Buckets or other large containers (5,330)

— Cigar tips (4,245)

Volunteers also picked up 22,838 cigarette filters.

Tomorrow, volunteers will gather — rain or shine — at Sea Bright, Sandy Hook, Monmouth Beach and 54 other locales along the Jersey coast from Old Bridge to Cape May to clear debris from beaches. And this time, the call for help is “urgent,” organizers say, because of all the waste washed ashore after last week’s northeaster.

“Unfortunately, when it rains, our waterways are the ultimate sinks for the thousands of cigarette butts, food bags, plastic bottles, and other garbage littered by people everyday in this region,” Kari Martin, COA’s Policy Communications Director, says in a press release. “With every rainfall, our roads, parking lots, and lawns are washed off, bringing everything on those surfaces to storm drains. These storm drains bring rainwater — mostly untreated — to our rivers, streams, bays, and the ocean.”

The sweeps begin at 9a and end at 12:30p. Details of the gatherings are here.

Volunteers are asked to bring gloves and are advised to wear sunscreen.

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