World Oceans Day: How the Jersey Shore is Fighting Pollution and 3 Ways You Can Help
In May, Monmouth Beach made headlines for passing the biggest plastic ban in the country. The Jersey shore town cracked down on single-use plastic bags, straws, and food containers, as well as Styrofoam take-out boxes. (Yes, you read that correctly!)
It was a much-needed action. Local non-profit Clean Ocean Action reported a 58.75% increase in plastic straws found on NJ beaches in 2017, after its annual “beach sweeps” cleanup. Over 80% of the trash it found was plastic. This isn’t just a Jersey problem, either. According to Plastic Oceans Foundation, 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, worldwide.
It’s no secret that this trash is deadly for marine life. Sea creatures can ingest the non-biodegradable material, causing toxins to enter the food chain. The animals can also be ensnared, strangled, or suffocated.
That’s why several other Jersey shore towns have passed similar legislation in recent years, focusing on plastic bags. Long Beach Township and The Borough of Longport are just a couple on the growing list. Even better: NJ is considering a STATEWIDE plastic ban.
In the meantime, there’s plenty that you (yes, you) can do to join the cause, while still enjoying your beach vacation.
3 DO’S AND DON’T’S OF BEING GREEN ON THE SAND
- DO pack a waste-free lunch
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it is quicker (and lighter) to zip your PB&J in a sandwich bag, throw the whole chip bag in your cooler, and keep chugging plastic water bottles. Or even more tempting: indulging in a Styrofoam-encased takeout from the boardwalk. Instead, consider bringing beach goodies in reusable bottles and containers.
- DON’T abandon broken gear
When your umbrella meets its end in a strong gust of wind or your beach chair snaps after years of loyalty, it seems like a hassle to carry the broken remains back to the car. But don’t give up yet! Consider repurposing the parts. If not, throwing them in your local dump is still better than leaving them to litter our beautiful beaches. Also, it may be worth it to invest in higher quality (or even eco-friendly) beach furniture, to avoid future waste.
- DO use all-natural sunscreen
Much like plastic, most sunscreens also contain toxins, which can then pollute our oceans and damage our coral reefs after a dip in the waves. Instead of grabbing a cheap drugstore bottle, opt for organic, low-chemical, or paraben-free sunscreens.
Readers, what suggestions do you have for going greener at the beach? Tell us in the comments.