What does it take to collect more than 143,000 pounds of trash from U.S. beaches? For environmental group Surfrider Foundation's 2022 beach cleanup report, it took 30,000 volunteers scouring beaches from the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines as well as the Great Lakes region.
PN's Jim Johnson has a story on the most prevalent pieces of trash collected (you shouldn't be surprised there was a lot of plastic), but the 27-page report includes some interesting angles from individual cleanups. Those regional stories, Surfrider said in its report, point to the people behind the numbers.
On Hawaii's Kauai Island, beach collections began in 2007 when students at a middle school and high school cleaned up fishing nets that had washed up on the island's east shore. The nets were such a continuing nuisance that volunteers continued to clean up nets from beaches every three weeks. Then, starting in 2013, volunteers began weekly cleanups.
Volunteers in California said they were disappointed only to find small pieces of plastic in their searches, accounting for about 1.95 pounds of pollution per person. But added together, Orange County workers removed 9,000 pounds of trash from beaches.
A resident living along Sebastian Inlet on Florida's Atlantic Coast contacted Surfrider after finding a polypropylene rope from a commercial fishing vessel. Two volunteers followed the rope to a tangled jumble of fishing nets that weighed in at about 600 pounds, requiring several more volunteers to clear.