I wanted to add a forward to this blog post before people think that they have found proof that New Jersey beaches are littered with garbage. This is NOT the case – but vacationers often don’t care about what they do with their garbage. This is NOT strictly a New Jersey problem, but you will find it in any beach community throughout the US. I have done a search and the same complaints are made about Gulf Shores, Florida, California and the Carolina beaches. However, people seem to expect New Jersey to be better than everyone else and when they encounter trash on our beaches – it just seems to confirm their ignorant stereotypical view of our beaches as if no one else has this problem. The sole purpose of this article is to ask vacationers who come to OUR beaches, to please respect them and pick up your trash! It isn’t that much to ask. If you want to trash a place – then stay home and trash your own house and town. If you have come here to look for confirmation that New Jersey beaches are filled with litter, please go someplace else – because that is not the case.
I just came back from Seaside Heights and I have to say – people need to throw their trash in the garbage can! I got into a discussion/argument with my cousin Mark over vacationers a couple of weeks ago on this very subject – particularly the kind defined as “bennies”. Benny is a derogatory term used to describe tourists/vacationers who rent the summer beach house and come down from the northeastern New Jersey cities and New York (City). The term Benny is thought to derive from the initials for – Bergen, Essex, Newark and New York. His argument was that they generally trash our beaches and act like they own our nightclubs and he wishes they would just stay home, instead of destroying our beaches and causing traffic congestion. BTW – in southern New Jersey, Shoebee is the term used, however it applies to Philadelphians and supposedly refers to when these particular tourists, or day-trippers, would pack a sandwich or lunch in a shoebox and bring it to the beach with them.
Anyway – I had told him that not all “bennies” were like this (for instance the AboutNewJersey.com messageboard has many northern New Jersey members, such as Dave who manages the Jersey Store at Newark Liberty International Airport and I know they care about the cleanliness of our beaches) but yes, I can not stand the ones who leave their garbage on our beach, just throw their trash on the boardwalk and act like they own the town and act like complete idiots. You can get an idea of what some of these type of bennies are if you catch one of the “True Life” episodes on MTV – where they cover a group of friends from northern New Jersey during their summer stay at Seaside Heights. Tonight I seemed to see a lot of this kind. A lot are down because it’s been in the 90’s this weekend and it’s prom season and the thing to do is get a hotel room at the Jersey Shore for after prom weekend. Anyway – the beach was a disaster – this was around 10:30pm and there was trash all up and down the boardwalk. Someone even left clothes and towels just laying on the ground at the beach entrance by the Funtown Amusement Pier.
Of course I also know that not all the trash problems can be blamed on the vacationer. For one thing, the garbage cans aren’t emptied until the early morning hours. I don’t see why Seaside Heights does NOT have a more routine schedule for emptying out the trash. I know during beach hours it would be very difficult to move through and pick up the garbage cans while everyone is laying on the beach. But after 5:00 – there is NO REASON why they can’t have a garbage collector go around and empty out the trash cans. With a full days worth of garbage – they obviously overflow and all that trash just blows around and then once high tide starts coming in, it all just ends up in the water. To add to that – you have the seagulls. I have seen this, they go and swarm the garbage cans, picking out garbage – flying off with it and dropping it. They spread the trash all around. However, this mostly happens after 5:00pm once most people have left the beach and again, having the sanitation people go out at that time to pick up the garbage cans would do a lot in helping reduce the amount of garbage lying on the beaches. I would also like to see people with broom and shovel walking the boardwalk and sweeping up the trash on an on going basis.
But it is also visitors who obviously contribute to the trash problem. I have seen people just leave dirty diapers on the beach. Or people will order a large pepperoni pizza from one of the boardwalk pizzerias, bring the box, paper plates, napkins, paper cups of soda, all down so they can eat it on the beach. Now you would think that since they managed to carry that stuff all the way from the boardwalk, that they would be able to walk a couple of feet to put their trash in the garbage can – or if the trash can is full – at least lay it NEXT to the garbage can. But no – many times the group will pack up their towels and all their other belongings and there is all their trash from their meal just lying there. Believe it or not though, the biggest litter is cigarette butts. Don’t use the beach as your own personal giant ASHTRAY! It really amazes me how gross people can be. I can go to the beach after everyone has left and I’m bound to see spots where a smoker was sitting and it looks like one huge ashtray with all their cigarette butts sticking out of the sand. It is downright gross.
Obviously where there are a lot of humans gathering, there will be trash. We are dirty creatures it seems, but unlike other creatures – we have a brain and I hope we all know the consequences of our actions, or in this case our inaction. I do realize that it is at the beach where it is windy, trash has a habit of blowing around, the wind picks up paper plates, napkins, anything light enough to float in the air and there are so many other factors that contribute to the trash problem – but there is one thing that we can control and that is what WE do with OUR trash. Do we leave it on the beach? Do we just throw the plate on the ground? When we are sitting outside and the wind takes our napkin – do we go get it? This is OUR choice.
If you come to enjoy our beaches, show some respect for them. Show some respect for where WE live. Show some respect for the environment you spent all day enjoying! I hope people will make the right decisions on what they do with their trash and PICK IT UP – THROW IT AWAY!