Surfrider volunteers clean up the bay

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Volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation Central Long Island chapter cleaned up the bay on Saturday as part of an effort to create cleaner local waterways.

About 50 people collected and sorted about 1,200 pounds trash and recyclables from a half-mile strip of shoreline along Reynolds Channel, said Marvin Weiss, the chapter’s vice chairman. Members of the Long Beach Civil Service Employees Association joined the effort and hauled away three truckloads of garbage.

“People don’t realize that when they throw out their garbage it doesn’t really go anywhere,” said Betsy MacLeod, the volunteer coordinator for the local Surfrider chapter. “There is no ‘away.’ There is no throwing away.”  

Volunteers tallied up their findings: 93 aluminum cans, 120 glass bottles, 250 plastic bottles, 11 balloons, 200 plastic bags, 40 plastic straws, five buoys, a barbecue grill and a bicycle.

Members of the local chapter’s executive committee said they were happy to see so many young students taking part in the cleanup. The Island Trees High School National Honor Society as well as local families and students from Nesconset joined the effort.

“It raises awareness at a young age with hands-on experience and awareness,” MacLeod said. “It’s good for people to see that [the trash] doesn’t always make it to where it’s supposed to go, especially with the children. I think it’s import to spread awareness.”

Surfrider members said much of the trash had washed up, but a large amount was dumped.

“We have to do better, people!” members of the group posted on their Facebook page. “Even though this is a neglected parcel of land, anything left here can still blow into the bays, poison groundwater or harm wildlife.”

The land-based cleanup took place during low tide so volunteers could collect as much trash as they could, Weiss said.

Gentle Brew provided free coffee for the volunteers, MacLeod said, adding that the business is listed on the Surfrider database as a local, “ocean friendly” restaurant.

“Any restaurant is welcome to sign up as long as they meet certain criteria, such as no styrofoam, proper recycling, reusable tableware,” MacLeod explain.

Surfrider’s “Ocean Friendly” Restaurants Program aims to help reduce plastic pollution in the ocean. For more information about the criteria or which local businesses qualify as “ocean friendly,” visit centralli.surfrider.org.

Additionally, Surfrider will host its annual Earth Day Canals Cleanup on Saturday, April 27.

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