Butts rule in N.J. beach cleanup

Organizer calls for resumption of anti-litter program

April 28, 2002|By Amy S. Rosenberg | Amy S. Rosenberg,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Once again, butts rule on New Jersey beaches.

For the eighth year in a row, cigarette filters topped the list of debris collected during two beach sweeps last year - 39,196 of them, about 16 percent of the entire 38-ton haul and about 5,000 more than were collected in 2000.

Like props from a bad soap opera, the annual tally of the beach sweeps includes 133 shotgun shells, 47 crack cocaine vials, a whoopee cushion, two beepers, a pregnancy test and a last will and testament.

Organized by Clean Ocean Action, the beach sweeps involved more than 5,200 volunteers at 97 locations on two days in 2001, according to Anthony Totah, the South Jersey coordinator. There were also several kayak cleanups along rivers and back bay creeks in South Jersey.

"We've had an increase in participants, and an increase in the number of items collected," said Cindy Zipf, director of Clean Ocean Action.

Zipf said the results show the need for the state to revive the expired Clean Communities Program, which funded anti-litter programs through a tax on liquor stores, restaurants, drug stores, food stores - any place selling items that wind up as litter.

In all, 243,485 items were removed from beaches in 2001, 66 percent of them traceable to land, rather than marine, sources. That was up from 2000's 212,000 items.

The tally from last year's sweeps was abundant in the usual suspects: Plastic accounted for 68 percent of the total, including 20,074 food wrappers or bags, 24,626 caps or lids and 19,257 straws. The sweep also netted ample supplies of paper, metal, glass, rubber, wood, foam plastic and cloth.

Unusual items included 192 shoes, 27 pacifiers, 3 wigs, a Duraflame log, a car dashboard, dentures and a yarmulke.

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