Dozens of volunteers came together over the holiday weekend with one goal - reducing the amount of garbage left on Masonboro Island. Volunteers and employees of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve went back to Masonboro Island today, to see if their weekend trash prevention program worked. As volunteers left for Masonboro Island, they wondered if their weekend of handing out trash bags at local boat ramps had any effect. When they arrived, they were pleasantly surprised. Nancy Faye Craig, a volunteer said, "It looks like we may just have a few items to pick up, so the process was very, very successful." The large trash may be scarce, but there were some dangerous items left behind. A volunteer and seasoned naturalist, Joe Abbate said, "Within a 15 foot stretch on the high tide line here we found over 50 cigarette butts and all sorts of broken Styrofoam." Volunteers also found pieces of glass and plastic on shore. Seasoned naturalists say birds can also mistake garbage as food. Animals aren't the only ones in danger when it comes to trash. Mr. Abbate said, “The glass we did find is potentially harmful to people walking the beach and we did find a couple of pieces of glass that almost cut a volunteer.” Abbate recommends using plastic coolers, instead of Styrofoam. “If you are on you boat carry some sort of container or an old can to put your cigarette butts out instead of flicking it into the water because it doesn't dissipate like most people think," said Abbate. Overall, volunteers say the weekend clean up efforts were a success. Over July 4th there were 15,000 pounds of trash left behind. This Labor Day weekend only a couple of bags. North Carolina Coastal Reserve employees and volunteers say the main thing people need to remember is no matter what beach you go to – do not leave any trash behind. The group is looking into implementing similar trash prevention programs next July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
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