DOVER – This year’s DNREC-sponsored 29th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup held Sept. 17 drew 1,572 volunteers, who collected 6 tons of trash from 45 sites along more than 75 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island. About one-quarter of that trash – mostly aluminum cans and glass and plastic beverage bottles – was recycled this year.
DNREC organizes the annual cleanup with co-sponsors including: the Ocean Conservancy; Edgewell Personal Care/Playtex Manufacturing Inc., which donates gloves; and Waste Management, which hauls trash and recyclables collected by volunteers.
“In addition to marring the natural beauty of our beaches and waterways, trash is 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: a Walkman cassette player, a television, a set of pornographic DVDs, an air horn, map, pay stub, bowling pin, badminton shuttlecock, fake aquarium plants, peach basket, vampire teeth, book, candle, finger splint, tweezers, respirator, surgical mask, pacifiers, baby wipes, teething ring, selfie stick, dog crate, toothbrush, dental floss, mailbox, a U.S. Postal Service plastic bin, real estate sign, political sign, two file cabinet drawers, a wine cork, two full beer bottles and a volleyball-sized round metal weight, purpose unknown. Other items of interest included:
Toys and sports items: Golf balls, tennis balls, soccer ball, football, hockey puck, rubber balls, swim fin, boogie board, plastic beach toys and shovels, glowstick, kiddie pool, baby doll, plastic jet plane, toy dinosaur, green plastic army men, toy light saber and an action figure entangled in fishing line.
Clothing and personal items: Assorted underwear including three pairs of boxers, socks, shorts, gloves, goggles, belts, hair ties, sunglasses, a bandana, a stocking, scarf, hairbrush, combs, eyeglasses, nose clip, Bandaids, plastic razor, towels, a rubber cane tip, pens, a Sharpie marker, chapstick and more than 50 shoes, including flip-flops, sneakers, boots and a “glitter sandal.”
Household and automotive: A window screen, 10 buckets, a rain gutter section, plunger, plastic zip ties, nuts, bolts, nails, hammer, fencing, a 50-foot piece of rope, cinder blocks, bricks, tiles, flooring, assorted lumber, metal and PVC pipes, hammer, laundry detergent, five burlap bags, paint rollers and brushes, pipe insulation, mattress, box spring, three propane tanks, seven sand bags, wire, chairs, patio table umbrella, clothespins, a car seat, bumper, two oil filters, car oil can, antifreeze, steering wheel and 44 tires.
Fishing and boating: A dinghy, wooden boat, life raft, anchor, floating dock piece, boat seat, bait box, fishing reel, 185 crab pots, traps and buoys, crab pot tags, steel piling pieces, sand fencing, an umbrella pole, 374 yards of fishing line and 270 fish nets.
Some items were notable in their numbers. Statewide, volunteers picked up 13,577 cigarette and cigar butts, a decrease of 6,833 from last year’s total of 20,410. Balloons increased slightly, from 458 last year to 654 this year. Other items included 331 fireworks, 215 shotgun shells and 2,350 plastic bags.
This year, more than 23,500 pieces of food/beverage-related trash were picked up. This year’s notable numbers included 4,842 food wrappers, 5,600 plastic bottle caps, 1,028 lids, 1,840 straws, 3,024 plastic beverage bottles, 2,030 beverage cans, 1,183 glass bottles and 2,753 paper, plastic and foam cups, plates and take-out containers.
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. 16, 2017. Registration will be posted on DNREC’s website at www.delaware.dnrec.gov next July.
For more information on The Ocean Conservancy or the International Coastal Cleanup, please visit www.oceanconservancy.org.