BY ASHA MAHADEVAN
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s New York City chapter plans a cleanup of Beach 116 in the Rockaways on Sunday. They have done it twice before this year, but the trash just keeps piling up.
The cleanup is open to the public and anyone can volunteer. Volunteers will meet on the boardwalk off Beach 116 under a Sea Shepherd Jolly Roger flag by 2 p.m.
They will clean the beach until 4:30 p.m. and spend the next hour sorting the trash on the boardwalk so passersby can see what is thrown away at the beach.
“During our earlier cleanups, we have found soda bottles, empty alcohol bottles, plastic cups, paper products from fast food places nearby and metal bottles,” said Ethan Wolf, coordinator for the society’s New York City chapter. “In the summer months, we have also found pieces of clothing.”
Once, his team found a plastic box filled with rusty nails. “That was the weirdest thing,” he said.
The most harmful thing to discard in the beach is plastic, Wolf said. “Plastic doesn’t go away,” he said. “It breaks down into smaller particles. The marine wildlife eats it, even the birds eat it, and then their stomach gets filled with plastic. They then cannot eat the food they need to sustain themselves.”
Sea Shepherd now has a plan for all that plastic. The organization has teamed up with Bionic Yarn to convert the plastic trash found on the beach into fiber. The project is still in its initial stages as both sides have yet to figure out which type of plastic can actually be used.
Wolf said that this is the last cleanup of Rockaway that the organization has planned for this year, since usually, not much trash accumulates on the beaches during the winter. However, volunteers will continue to check the beaches during the winter, and if they feel it’s necessary, they will organize another cleanup.
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