WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH -- Keeping our beach areas environmentally healthy and looking good is important for any number of reasons. The trash and debris left by visitors can take a toll. More than 100 volunteers converged on Wrightsville Beach this weekend to make a difference. "One Tree Hill" star Sophia Bush said, "The beach is not a dumping ground or a garbage can." They joined the efforts of the Surfrider Foundation and Barefoot Wine to make the beach "barefoot friendly." From tower 35 to 40 students, surfers and celebrities pitched in to pick up trash on the beach and in the water. They walked miles to collect cans, bottles, cigarette butts and other debris that can wreak havoc with the wildlife and make the beach look trashy. Bush lives in Wrightsville Beach when the series is in production. She said, "Now being here on the east coast and working in Wilmington for the last five years, the Atlantic has become our playground, and Wrightsville beach is our home away from home, so it's important to me and everybody that I work with that this beach stay clean." Jill Cunniff of the band Luscious Jackson is passionate about the environment. She's lending her name and her voice to the efforts of the nationwide beach cleanup. "I've loved the beach since I was a child," Cunniff said. "There's always trash. We would go to city beaches and there's always stuff on the beach so that's how it's come right in to my life. Now when I go to the beach, not only do I clean the beach around me, I go in the water and clean the water." After Cunniff picked up trash on Wrightsville Beach she performed at Tower 7 Baja to an appreciative audience as a way to thank volunteers for their efforts. "We cleaned up a lot of cigarettes -- we had a bag about this big of cigarette butts. What can I say? Stop smoking, it's bad for you!" Cunniff said. The next day beachgoers were delighted to enjoy the benefits of the clean beach. When you hear statistics like eight million pounds of trash could be picked up in one day from beaches around the world, it really reminds you how much people discard, a little thing here and there, and don't think about it. But when the world is doing it, it takes a really heavy toll. Next time you go to the beach, spend an extra few minutes to leave the beach cleaner than you found it.
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