Keep it Clean: Taking Care of Our Beaches

Delaware is known for having some of the highest-quality beaches in the nation. To keep the beaches clean, Delaware state parks have a carry-in, carry-out policy. This helps reduce waste and the associated costs required to clean it up. Local volunteers also get involved with programs to remove any other litter that ends up on the beaches.
DNREC's aims to protect and enhance Delaware's beaches and also to educate and inform citizens about the responsibilities of environmental stewardship. The Department encourages groups and organizations to join its Adopt-A-Beach program to clean up trash throughout the year and make our beaches cleaner and safer for both people and wildlife.
This program offers 43 half-mile segments of Atlantic coast beach for adoption. One of the cleanups typically coincides with the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day. DNREC provides the necessary supplies, such as trash bags, gloves, and report forms and volunteers get the satisfaction of helping to keep the beaches clean.
International Coastal Cleanup Day
Along with the local cleanup efforts that take place year-round, International Coastal Cleanup Day occurs each September. This is an opportunity for communities worldwide to rid the entire coastline of trash that accumulates throughout the year. DNREC organizes the Coastal Cleanup event in Delaware, which includes more than 40 site locations covering over 70 miles of coast. The Ocean Conservancy collects the data and makes it available so information about cleanups all over the world can be compared to one another and shared with the public.

The data below show the top five items collected between 2016 and 2018 that were reported to the Ocean Conservancy's Trash Information and Data for Education and Solutions (TIDES) program.

Cigarettes are the most commonly collected item during beach cleanups, followed by various plastic items. In an effort to reduce this litter, as well as exposure to second-hand smoke from tobacco use, Delaware State Parks asks all park visitors to refrain from using tobacco in designated tobacco-free zones.
Top 5 Items 2016-2018

Beginning in 2011, recyclables were sorted from trash items at Coastal Cleanup Day. Recycling conserves resources and energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and diverts waste from expensive and unsightly landfills. Since 2011, if all the plastic bottles that were found on the beaches had been recycled, the energy saved from recycling those bottles is equivalent to the energy needed to drive a car over 14,000 miles.
Visit the Ocean Conservancy's TIDES website to view other reports and interesting facts about cleanup efforts throughout the state and around the world. Joining a cleanup effort or just picking up litter on your own are easy ways for citizens to get involved in maintaining our precious beach habitats. Every bit helps.

Page reviewed 1/7/19