Three local surf-centric businesses led a successful beach cleanup Nov. 7 to support Surfrider Delaware Chapter.
Teams from Surf Bagel, Swell Joe Coffee and Surf Captain, along with other volunteers, were treated to unseasonably warm temperatures as they scoured the beach along Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park.
Volunteers signed up online prior to the event to ensure the 25-person limit due to pandemic restrictions. They were greeted at the Herring Point lookout lot by Surfrider cleanup coordinator Jana Johnston and members Micah Sklut and Hannah Royston. Volunteers were given tips and cleanup gear, including gloves and empty burlap bags donated by Swell Joe Coffee Company. The groups headed out in different directions to start searching for trash.
“I’ve always enjoyed walking along the waterline looking for interesting shells,” said Liz Vitalla, Surf Bagel. “I realize now how many small pieces of trash I used to walk by without really seeing them.”
Swell Joe’s Karen Johnson echoed Vitella’s sentiments. After finding broken sunglasses and single-use plastic bags, Johnson said she expects to rethink future beach trips by always having trash bags on hand. “I learned a lot about how impactful even the smallest pieces of plastic can be,” she said.
According to data collected by Surfrider Foundation, microbeads to plastic fragments to microfibers, this small but pervasive form of plastic is frequently found in the stomachs of fish. In addition, 13 million tons of plastic enters marine waters each year. Most of it starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks, and is swept into storm drains, creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.
The teams collected 340 pieces of trash in a couple of hours, including plastic food wrappers and bottles, cigarette butts and foam fragments.
“While we never expect a heavy volume of debris and trash this time of year, every bit helps,” Sklut said. “We don’t want too much time to go by between cleanups because our goal is to collect the trash before it washes into the ocean.”
For those who weren’t able to attend the cleanup, Royston encourages a cleanup mindset every day. “Whenever you’re at the beach, bay, canal, park, or even your neighborhood, take along a collection bag. You’ll be surprised how quickly it fills up,” he said. “And if you love living in this beautiful coastal community, consider becoming a Surfrider member to allow us to keep fighting for clean water and healthy beaches.”
Surfrider memberships start at just $25 per year. For more information, go to delaware.surfrider.org.
The Delaware Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the Delaware beaches, waves and estuaries, for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.