Whoopee cushion, bra pad, parking meter among NJ beach trash
Apr. 13, 2015
SANDY HOOK, N.J. (AP) — Among the seashells, sandcastles and ocean waves at the Jersey shore last year, you may also have seen these: a whoopee cushion, a parking meter, a stun gun, a clay sculpture of baby Jesus and some bra padding.
They were among the more than 315,000 items of trash picked up from New Jersey's 127-mile coastline in 2014 by volunteers as part of spring and fall beach sweeps carried out by the Clean Ocean Action environmental group.
Plastic pieces were the most common trash, comprising 13 percent of the total. Many of them were broken down into small pieces, indicating a serious problem with so-called "microplastics" entering the marine environment and being eaten by fish or marine animals.
The trash was either left behind by beachgoers, or washed ashore by the tides from careless boaters, faraway trash dumps, or sewer systems that overflowed during storms.
Here's a look at some of the more unusual items that were picked up:
"JERSEY SHORE" AT THE JERSEY SHORE?
Volunteers picked up enough material to start a beauty salon, including bobby pins, hair ties, a hair brush, a hair weave and a wig. (No word on whether this all came from Seaside Heights during or shortly after Snooki's reign...)
SMOKIN' IN THE SAND
Cigarettes and smoking material accounted for nearly 10 percent of the total items collected. More than 30,000 cigarette butts or filters were tallied, along with 6,366 cigar tips and 891 lighters.
GUNS, GOD AND GROCERIES
Someone found a stun gun. Also picked up were a clay statue of baby Jesus, a customer rewards card from the Wegmans supermarket chain, a trash bag full of arcade tickets, a bowling ball and what the organizers assert was "human poop" without delving into details of how that was confirmed. Plus, a ski pole, a saw blade, a sleeping bag, parts of a wooden chair, a rubber mat and an engagement announcement.
Christmas lights were found, as were Christmas bells, firecrackers, larger fireworks, a light-up snowman, and, for that Halloween touch, a set of Dracula teeth.
TOYS, TOYS, TOYS
An alligator was found on the shore (a rubber one, that is), along with plastic Army soldiers, a plastic lobster, a swing set and a Badminton racket.
CLEAN THAT UP, STAT!
Medical waste continued to surface, including 197 syringes, most of which presumably were flushed down toilets and emerged during storm overflows. Nearly 3,200 tampon applicators, locally nicknamed "Jersey beach whistles" for the propensity of children to pick them up and use them as, well, whistles, also were tallied. There also were 563 condoms retrieved, thankfully with no details on their provenance.
Half a cellphone was discovered, along with a hearing aid; a set of headphones; a telephone cord (remember those?) and a TV remote. (Yes, THAT's where you left it.)
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC