On Saturday, September 15, over 40 volunteers removed more than 265 pounds of trash from Mattituck’s Breakwater Beach during a beach clean-up as part as International Coastal Cleanup Day.
It was organized by Group for the East End in conjunction with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, the Surfrider Foundation Eastern Long Island Chapter, and Mattituck Beach Cleanup. ICCD is a global movement spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy to clean shorelines and water bodies that began over 30 years ago, uniting hundreds of thousands of volunteers to comb lakes, rivers, and beaches around the world for trash.
“It was a great day on the beach protecting the nature of the place we love,” said Christine Tylee, GFEE program and stewardship coordinator.
Fishing line was one of the most collected items, along with large plastics, like coffee lids, that break down into microplastics and remain in the water. The oddest piece of trash found at Breakwater Beach? A bowling ball. According to Tylee, the top five items collected were small plastic items (1941), plastic bottle caps (359), food wrappers (271), fishing gear (240), and straws/stirrers (237).
“Almost all of the items collected were single-use plastics, highlighting the importance of changing our daily habits by using reusable items such as stainless steel straws, water bottles, coffee mugs, and utensils,” Tylee said.
According to GFEE, plastic has been found in 62 percent of all sea birds and in 100 percent of all sea turtle species. It’s also been found in 59 percent of sea birds like albatross and pelicans, and over 24 percent of fish sampled from seafood markets around the world, according to the Ocean Conservancy. In fact, plastic micro beads are now being found in plankton.
GFEE provided trash bags and gloves and utilized CleanSwell, an app launched by the Ocean Conservancy that allows users to record each item of trash they collect on shorelines and share it with the app’s global community. CleanSwell also tracks the distance and weight a user cleans, keeps a historical record of cleanup efforts, and provides researchers and policy makers with insight to solutions.
“This was a wonderful wrap-up to our #StrawlessSummerELI campaign, where 45 local bars and restaurants committed to stop using plastic straws,” Tylee said.
Group for the East End protects and restores the environment of Eastern Long Island through professional advocacy and education. The organization aims to inspire people to embrace a conservation ethic and to take action in their local communities. It was established in Bridgehampton in 1972 to serve as a community advocate for conservation in response to broad-based community concern about the future development of the region.
The GFEE employs a full-time staff of professional planners, natural resource specialists, and environmental educators that bring over 100 years of collective land use, education, and public advocacy experience to the local community. Over the years, the GFEE has developed a reputation for achieving lasting conservation
success with the support of broad-based civic, business, and elected constituencies.