Sandy Hook incident is why we need more than a plastic bag ban

The beaches along the Jersey Shore are absolutely stunning. From smooth sand to gentle ocean breezes, people visit year-round to enjoy all that the Jersey Shore has to offer.

But with that beauty comes a problem that’s been going on for far too long here in the Garden State. The unfortunate downside of our Shore beaches.

Too often, trash washes up on our beaches. Now, to be fair, it’s not always down to those who visit, but there are a fair number of people who leave trash behind and contribute to this ongoing problem.

Other than that, waste flows into our waterways through other means. More often than not, waste ends up in our storm drains and is washed out to sea.

It’s quite annoying to have to deal with every time you visit the beaches. It’s also annoying when people leave behind a fair amount of trash. But probably even worse than that is the impact it can have on marine life.

Entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook

Entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook (Bud McCormick)

In December 2021, a sperm whale washed up on the beaches of Sandy Hook, NJ. At the time, the cause of death was unknown. Now, in early 2022, we have the answer to what killed him. The cause of death was man-made.

A piece of tissue was found inside the animal, which affected its digestive system. As a result, the whale suffered internal problems, ran aground, and died.

Dead fish litter Belmar beach

Dead fish litter Belmar Beach (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

The problems with sea creatures losing their lives through human activity are very unfortunate. It’s even worse when it comes to complications due to human waste.

Volunteer girl in yellow gloves picks up trash selective focus

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This issue alone is one of the main reasons why a plastic bag ban in New Jersey is needed and long overdue. And while this particular incident on the Jersey Shore did not involve plastic bags, there are many documented cases where it did.

Plastic bags are also cited as one of the main types of waste causing the death of marine animals, which further confirms the need for this ban.

Plastic Bags Banned In These NJ Locations In 2019 Which NJ Cities Are Banning Plastic Bags

Plastic bags (Erin Vogt, Townsquare Media)

Now, that won’t solve the overall problem of litter washing into our waterways, but it’s a step in the right direction. This incident in Sandy Hook, NJ is exactly why we need to lean on the plastic bag ban here in the Garden State for more positive change.

Sea turtle eating plastic bag ocean pollution concept

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hopefully our neighboring states will take notice and follow New Jersey’s lead. Anything we can do to help save marine life and reduce litter in our waterways and on our beaches is a step in the right direction.

woman holding glass at water tap and refilling water.

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We also cannot forget the impact it has on our well-being. Chemicals from plastic bags and other types of waste can affect our drinking water, which can cause illness or worse for humans and other land animals.

It won’t be easy at first, but New Jersey will embrace alternatives to plastic bags. Hopefully this change in behavior will result in a positive outcome for our waterways and marine life.

Sand Hook, NJ

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For more on the sperm whale incident at Sandy Hook, click here.

Hopefully, New Jersey’s plastic bag ban is just the start of more positive changes to come when it comes to trash in the Garden State.

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