We Care About NYC’s Clean Beaches

By Teresa Ippolito

Do you go to the beach when it rains? Probably not, but your neighborhood’s street litter may end up there!

New York City waters and beaches really are cleaner today than they were 20 years ago. Part of the reason for that is the Clean Streets = Clean Beaches campaign.

On a recent Tuesday, a perfect day for the beach and a ball game, a group of EPA and New York City officials kicked off the 2012 campaign at Coney Island’s MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Deputy Regional Administrator George Pavlou stood with several NYC commissioners to remind New Yorkers how important the street/beach connection is. The speeches over, they made their way into the ballpark where the ceremonial first pitches also highlighted the campaign to the crowd. Most of the spectators that day were kids attending day camps in NYC. They really “got” the message: don’t toss litter in NYC streets. Clean Streets = Clean Beaches.

So, how can street litter end up on a beach? During heavy rainfalls in New York City, street litter, like potato chip bags, plastic bottles and other trash that people drop in the street, can wash down storm drains into sewers and end up being discharged into nearby waterways. Then, the litter washes up onto the beaches with the next high tide. THAT is how stuff usually gets on the beach…from the street! Amazing! Also amazingly preventable.

What can you do? Simply this: don’t litter. Use a litter basket. If none is around, hold onto it until you find an appropriate place to get rid of it. The street and storm drains are NOT where litter belongs!

NYC government trucks are displaying posters with the Clean Street=Clean Beaches message. Look for them!

About the Author: Terry Ippolito serves as the region’s Environmental Education Coordinator out of EPA’s Manhattan office. A former science teacher and school administrator, she brings real world insights into the challenges and delights of teaching about the environment. Terry holds a B.S in Biology and a Masters in Environmental Health Science.