The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control-sponsored 31st annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup held Sept. 22 drew 1,115 volunteers, who collected 2.7 tons of trash and recyclables from 42 sites along more than 68 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island.

For the first time in its history, the cleanup was moved to a rain date, due to Hurricane Florence.

This year, more than 21,547 pieces of food/beverage-related trash were picked up, including 3,509 food wrappers, 2,361 plastic beverage bottles, 1,203 beverage cans, 712 glass bottles and 2,882 paper, plastic and foam cups, plates and take-out containers. In a year when the numbers of most trash items were lower, the count of three plastic items increased: 2,738 straws, up from 1,898; 1,116 plastic lids, up from 993; and 7,026 plastic bottle caps, up from 4,636. Other notable items included 1,946 plastic bags, 32 tires, 235 shotgun shells, 8,885 cigarette butts and cigar tips and 723 balloons.

Some of the more unusual items found during this year’s cleanup were: a dishwasher, a message in a bottle from 2007, a knife in a sheath, mattress springs, scissors, contact lens case, power cord, charcoal grill, pirate hat, utility knife, car muffler, beach chair, bushel baskets, street sign, key card, glow stick, ink cartridge, pacifier, pith helmet, car console, golf club handle, metal canopy frame, and a wide variety of clothing and shoes including sneakers, flip-flops and jeweled sandals, as well as numerous balls and toys, including a troll doll, an “Incredibles” action figure, a Nintendo game controller and a Rubik’s Cube.

Delaware’s next Coastal Cleanup is set for Sept. 14. Registration will be posted at in July, with groups of 10 or more encouraged to register beginning May 1 by calling 739-9902 or emailing

DNREC organizes Delaware’s Coastal Cleanup with co-sponsors including Edgewell Personal Care/Playtex Manufacturing Inc., which donates gloves; and Waste Management, which hauls trash and recyclables collected by volunteers. Delaware’s event is part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information to help identify debris sources and focus efforts on elimination or reduction.

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