To the Editor:
New Jersey’s beaches are a beloved network of ecosystems that welcome tourists from all over the country each summer. From Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend, throngs of locals and vacationers flock to the shore to enjoy long days under the sun and take wonder in the many attractions of coastal nightlife.
However, there is one ugly smear that taints our shorelines year-round: garbage.
Valiant efforts made by local municipalities, such as proper disposal receptacles, do but little when the problem stems from beachgoers themselves. Even as the days grow short and the weather turns cold, the trash left behind lingers; some to be swallowed by the ocean and inevitably the wildlife therein, some to litter the sands that are such a treasured spot for people who hail from far and wide.
Cigarette butts, forgotten beach toys, bits of Styrofoam and stray fishing lines make up a fraction of the waste, each having a distinct adverse effect on the local ecosystems. Moreover, microplastics seem nearly as plentiful as the sand. Despite being small in size, these silent killers prove to be detrimental to human life at the end of the food cycle as a result of ingestion by crustaceans and fish.
Not only is litter ugly, but it is dangerous for wildlife and humans alike. Fortunately, there are different measures locals and tourists can take to preserve our beaches, in turn keeping them clean and beautiful. The two most important things to be done are finding sustainable alternatives for everyday products, like reusable bags and bottles, and being sure to carry out what you carry onto the beach. Luckily, there are trash receptacles at nearly every entrance to public beaches.
It is vital for beach lovers to take active part in keeping our beaches, therefore our oceans, clean. The North Wildwood Beach Beautification Brigade organizes monthly beach cleanups on the second Saturday of each month, convening at 9 a.m. at the Pavilion at First and Surf avenues. Coffee is provided, along with cleanup materials, such as bags and gloves.
Furthermore, as a collective, we must be the protectors of our planet and not shy away from picking up trash on our own time. This effort must not be in vain, and each individual has a civic responsibility to do his or her part. After all, the average American creates approximately five pounds of waste every day.
I urge all who read this letter to consider how harmful waste can be to our fragile coastal ecosystems. It is unsightly, unsanitary, and unacceptable as we get ready to begin a new decade. Each individual makes a significant impact on the world around them with each decision they make. After all, it only takes a spark to ignite a flame – and small acts, when performed by millions of people, can transform the world.