Cigarettes, plastics top list of NJ beach trash

Story Highlights

  • Volunteers counted 351,781 items of trash collected on more than 60 beaches from the tip of Cape May to the Raritan Bay shore.
  • Cigarette filters reclaimed the top spot on the unappealing list in 2012.
  • Volunteers counted 49,362 cigarette butts and miscellaneous plastic pieces were second at 43,777.
WAYNE PARRY , The Associated Press

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 10:27 AM

LONG BRANCH, N.J. – I know what you did last summer on New Jersey’s beaches … and it was gross.

Based on the trash left behind by beachgoers, washed ashore from distant landfills or sewer overflows, one can only assume it was a summer to remember.

“Volunteers find the wild, the wacky and the weird during the beach sweeps – everything from ant traps to Yoda,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action environmental group, which organized the cleanups. “But at the heart of it all is the love of the Jersey shore , the ocean, beaches, and people who strive for a clean ocean.”

Items collected in the environmental group’s statewide beach cleanups included hair rollers; a hair clip with fake hair attached to it; tanning goggles, hair bows, and false eyelashes (there’s no real proof this all came from Snooki, but she WAS in Seaside Heights again last year).

There also was a tube of theatrical blood, vampire teeth, a do-not-enter sign, a wicker sofa, 744 condoms or rubber bands (yes, they were listed that way, hopefully not interchangeably); 511 gloves; and 3,102 tampon applicators, also known locally as “Jersey beach whistles” for some children’s penchant to, well, use them as whistles.

The group counted 351,781 items of trash collected on more than 60 beaches from the tip of Cape May to the Raritan Bay shore.

But more than that was actually scooped from the sand; 21 cleanup team captains lost their data when Superstorm Sandy damaged their houses just nine days after the fall cleanup. In 2011, the group set a record with than 475,000 pieces of litter removed from the shoreline.

Cigarette filters reclaimed the top spot on the unappealing list in 2012. Volunteers counted 49,362 cigarette butts, representing more than 14 percent of all trash picked up last year. Miscellaneous plastic pieces were second at 43,777. Other copious castoffs included 38,349 plastic caps or bottle lids, nearly 11 percent of the total; 33,162 food or candy bags, nearly 10 percent; and 22,094 foam pieces, representing more than 6 percent of the total.