This year’s DNREC-sponsored 28th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup, held on Sept. 20, drew 1,805 volunteers, who collected 3.2 tons of trash from 46 sites along more than 80 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island. About one-third of that trash — aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles — was recycled this year.
DNREC organizes the annual cleanup with co-sponsors including the Ocean Conservancy, Delmarva Power, which donates T-shirts, Playtex’s Energizer Personal Care, which donates gloves for the volunteers, and Waste Management, which hauls away the trash and recyclables collected by volunteers.
“We think it’s fantastic that each year this event attracts a huge number of people who want to do something positive for the environment,” said Matt Likovich, spokesman for Delmarva Power, which has sponsored the Coastal Cleanup for 24 consecutive years. “We appreciate the volunteers’ time and energy in helping to clean up our beaches and riverbanks.”
“In addition to marring the natural beauty of our beaches and waterways, trash can be dangerous to marine life and unhealthy for water quality,” said Delaware Coastal Cleanup Coordinator Joanna Wilson. “Each year, the Coastal Cleanup helps make a difference for marine life and water quality — and it’s the hundreds of dedicated volunteers, many of whom come back year after year, who make the Cleanup possible.”
Some of the more unusual items found during this year’s cleanup were chopsticks, a laundry basket, runner’s race number tag, electric saber saw, windshield wiper, basketball, baseball, bowling ball, tennis balls, paint brush, tweezers, tiki torches, Barbie doll, glow stick, swim fin, auto fender, plastic trellis, shingle, flashlight, toilet seat, Christmas lights, telephone box, crab traps, TV, car fender, coat, engine, an unopened 12-pack of razors, hubcap and the proverbial message in a bottle.
Some items were notable in their numbers. Statewide, volunteers picked up 18,877 cigarette and cigar butts — a reduction of 3,902 from last year’s total of 22,779. The number of fishing-related items also dropped, from 1,385 last year to 989 this year. Other items included 64 old tires, 1,214 balloons, 2,777 plastic bags, and nearly 28,000 pieces of food/beverage-related trash — compared to more than 26,000 last year.
The Delaware Coastal Cleanup is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy’s flagship program dealing with marine debris and data collection. The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information to help identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.
Delaware’s next Coastal Cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Volunteers are being encouraged to pre-register to ensure sites receive enough supplies. Interested volunteers can check out DNREC’s website at www.delaware.dnrec.gov next July for registration information.
For more information on the Ocean Conservancy or the International Coastal Cleanup, visit the Conservancy’s website at www.oceanconservancy.org.