Which trash is most prevalent on Jersey Shore beaches?

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It is time for the annual tally of beach garbage.

Last year, nearly 4,000 volunteers collected more than 218,807 pieces of garbage from 70 sites in 58 municipalities along New Jersey’s shoreline during the spring and fall Clean Ocean Action’s 31st Annual Beach Sweeps.

What was the most prevalent garbage item collected from New Jersey shore beaches?  Plastics, of course.

Plastics accounted for 81 percent of the items found, and it came in many forms, including foam.

More than 8,200 beverage bottles were collected, along with 23,643 caps and lids, 28,885 generic plastic pieces, 12,073 straws or stirrers, 20,979 food or candy wrappers, and plastic bags.

“The Annual Report is always full of surprises,” Kari Martin, a COA board member, said in a statement.

Cigarette filters, another popular item, accounted for 20,219 of the items found, along with 3,581 cigar tips.

Then came the balloons.

Between Mylar and rubber, 2,951 balloons were picked up on the beaches. There is no accounting for the balloons that ended up in the ocean, and are often mistaken for food by marine animals.

Beach blankets, sheets and towels also made the list, but in far smaller volume. People left behind 275 of those, and 396 shoes. 

The group also categorizes some items in a “Roster of the Ridiculous” — a bucket of nails, two door frames, an iPod, a cellphone, a car door, a fake fingernail, a pregnancy test (unclear whether it was positive or negative), a $10 bill, gold coins, a New Jersey lottery ticket, three mouse traps, a full upper denture (did they not know that was missing?), a car battery, an EZ Pass, two hula hoops, three fake Christmas trees (two decorated), a pitchfork, a toilet seat, a pink flamingo (of course) a diaper (ewww), two bottles of motor oil, and other assorted weird items.

In total, about 116,000 people have removed over 5.9 million pieces of litter over three decades.

“That is dedication and impressive,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action.

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