2005-09-22 / Top Stories

Volunteers Join Twentieth Annual Beach Cleanup

Bethea and Paley examine a list of pollutants found at the Canarsie Pier, which included various plastic materials from the nearby picnic area. 
Dara MormileBethea and Paley examine a list of pollutants found at the Canarsie Pier, which included various plastic materials from the nearby picnic area. Dara Mormile By Dara Mormile

As part of the 20th Annual New York State Beach Cleanup organized by the American Littoral Society, thousands of volunteers flocked to beaches last Saturday to collect discarded de-bris to help combat pollution and de-termine its source. The event was part of the International Coastal Cleanup of The Ocean Conservancy.

In addition to documenting pollution data from over 300 beaches statewide, cleanup efforts were made to increase public participation and teach others to have appreciation for the environment. Last year over 7,000 New Yorkers participated in the beach clean up.

Volunteer Robbie Paley helps with cleanup at Canarsie Pier’s beach.Volunteer Robbie Paley helps with cleanup at Canarsie Pier’s beach. Barbara Cohen, coordinator of the American Littoral Society, was in charge of getting volunteers together for the event.

“We’re not just going to clean the beaches,” she said. “We’re going to teach volunteers how to properly dispose of trash and where it comes from. Things we throw away often wind up in our beach waters then wash ashore, causing more pollution. The Littoral Society also wants to educate people about which pollutants are in their environment. In addition, volunteers cataloging each piece of trash found will help us compile a comprehensive report for state and federal government.”

According to Jennifer Bethea, Urban Park Ranger at the Canarsie Pier, pollutants at the beach are mostly from trash washed in with the tide as well as debris from the nearby picnic area.

“Today we documented a lot of plastic washing up here at the pier’s beach,” she said. “We had one group of volunteers here who collected cups, forks, plastic bottles and food wrappers. It seems a lot of the litter comes from the trash blowing into the water from the picnic areas,” she added.

First-time volunteer Robbie Paley of Madison Brooklyn said she found an abundance of glass, Styrofoam and party material along the beach.

“By participating in the cleanup, I feel like I’m undoing other people’s damage,” she said. “I’m very environmentally conscious and I think this is a great way to perform community service and I’m definitely going to volunteer next year.”

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