Editorial: Plastic pollution prompts citizen cleanup

January 22, 2019

When a photograph of trash strewn along the tideline at Cape Henlopen State Park was posted to social media last week, it did not take long for Cape Region residents to respond.

Before the tide could change, several residents went out to the park to pick up debris, mostly plastic food wrappers and labels from plastic bottles, a testament to how plastic somehow defies destruction and turns up everywhere, especially where it should not be.

The ocean is a place where plastic definitely should not be, yet there it was, right on our shoreline.

It is heartening that our neighbors were so upset on seeing social media photos that they headed to the park with their own plastic bags and picked up as much trash as they could. Their quick action removed a lot of plastic, but the next morning, debris could still be seen floating in the water as park officials walked the shoreline.

Cape Henlopen State Park Superintendent Grant Melville said it’s difficult to say where the plastic came from, and it’s likely we will never know how it came to wash up on our shores.

We applaud everyone who rushed to clean up the mess at Cape Henlopen State Park and everyone who picks up trash – most of it plastic – every time they walk the beach. There’s plenty to be found, even on a short stroll.

But solving the problem of ocean  pollution – not to mention land pollution – will take more than our individual efforts. It’s time to end the tsunami of plastic that is washing around the world, leaving its traces everywhere, even in the most pristine corners of the globe.

Plastic is an amazing product, but it’s also nearly indestructible.  We can all help by picking up the plastic we see.

But if we don’t want to be buried in plastic, we must stop making and throwing away so much of it.


  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.

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