Volunteers disperse along Second Beach in Middletown (Photo Credit: Shanon Dicicco)

The following was written by Clean Ocean Access.

On Saturday, February 22, 2020, Clean Ocean Access (COA) hosted a beach cleanup at Second Beach in Middletown. Also known as Sachuest Beach, this destination attracts thousands of visitors all year round for walking, surfing, swimming, and other coastline activities. To the naked eye, the litter scattered along the shore may not be visible right away, but there is no denying that pollution exists at this beach.

On this brisk and sun-soaked Saturday afternoon,156 enthusiastic volunteers from Aquidneck Island, Narragansett, and as far away as Ohio came together to take action for a healthy ocean that is free of marine debris. In just two hours, 385 pounds of trash was collected. Volunteers found items such as a snapped fishing pole, a lobster cage tangled in fishing line, and hundreds of cigarette butts.

Despite the 2015 ban of cigarettes on all municipal beaches island-wide, this form of debris remains a serious concern. “I couldn’t stay long but wanted to do my part. I only walked a few feet in the parking lot and found 127 cigarette butts” noted a visitor from Ohio who participated in the cleanup for five minutes. Cigarette butts are made from plastic cellulose acetate, which is not biodegradable. “I picked up a plastic utensil that I watched someone just throw on the beach, while we were clearly cleaning up around them” stated another cleanup volunteer. Single-use plastics, cigarette butts, and other forms of debris continue to threaten marine life and birds across the nation. 

Clean Ocean Access will be hosting their next cleanup this Spring at Brenton Point State Park in Newport on March 21, 2020 from 12-2 PM. All are encouraged to participate in this community effort to eliminate marine debris, improve coastal water quality, and protect and preserve shoreline access.

Clean Ocean Access beach cleanups are sponsored by People’s Credit Union and Dassault Systèmes. Coffee is provided by Empire Tea & Coffee. For more information on ways to get involved, please visit www.cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer.

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