More than 275 volunteers participated in the 34th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day at New York Avenue beach on Sept. 21.
The city partnered with the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center in alliance with the LBNY Arts Council, The Surfrider Foundation, Stewards of the Sea, American Littoral Society, All Our Energy, Slang Magic, Skudin Surf and the Long Beach Latino Civic Association to collect litter and spread awareness about trash in the oceans. According to city officials, volunteers picked up more than 200 pounds of trash along six blocks, including 1,404 cigarette butts, 1,272 small plastics, 576 bottle caps, 501 food wrappers, 287 straws/stirrers and countless other items totaling 6,275 pieces of debris.
Local officials were also in attendance, including Long Beach City Council President Anissa Moore, Assemblywoman Missy Miller and Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford.
They were followed by special guest Fabien Cousteau — founder of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center and grandson of famed explorer and marine conservationist Jacques Cousteau — who spoke about the importance of preserving and protecting oceans and marine life.
“Our environmental support system is forcing monumental challenges by our own hand,” Fabien Cousteau said at the event. “The only way to imagine a better future is for each one of us to help fill the solution one action bucket at a time. Seeing such a great turnout today in Long Beach is a sign that people are taking action.”
This was the second year in which the city teamed up with Fabien Cousteau and the Ocean Learning Center to host International Coastal Cleanup Day. The first partnership, in 2017, came just a few months after Long Beach became the first community in Nassau County to charge a fee for single-use carryout bags. The city recently conducted a community-wide survey of local businesses and found that, on average, local stores have reduced plastic bag use by nearly 50 percent since the ordinance went into effect Earth Day 2017 — which the city called a huge benefit for the environment and for keeping single-use plastic out of our ocean.
Many students from Long Beach Middle School were in attendance along with middle school art teacher Laura Swan. Together they are known as the Stewards of the Sea and they said they would create trash art from the recovered beach debris, which will aim to highlight the need for global awareness of trash in our oceans. The project is expected to be unveiled within the next few months.
“We heard the voices from our youth as they sifted through and sorted pieces of trash art and we are proud to be making progress with the next generation who are having important dialogues about single-use plastics and ocean debris,” Swan said. “Through these important environmental events, people are learning to rethink their everyday choices to be more environmentally conscious.”