RYE — Girl Scouts cleaning up the beach on Saturday were pleasantly surprised there was less trash than usual.
For more than 16 years, Girl Scouts have been helping with International Coastal Cleanup Day, the world's largest day of volunteerism focused on the oceans.
There was still plenty of trash to be found — cigarette butts, condom wrappers, bits of glass and plastic, cans and bottles and other unmentionables were collected and cataloged by about 55 Girl Scouts and leaders and 16 other groups during the New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup event.The Girl Scouts were responsible for just under one mile of coastline accessed through four turnouts in Rye.
"It's a great service project to start the year," Brownie Troop leader Jill Galus of Raymond said.
The girls said they felt good about helping the earth.Quinn Moore, 12, a Cadet Girl Scout from Raymond said she is never surprised that there is trash on the beach.
"It's gross. Nowadays there is lots of trash everywhere and I'm not really surprised," Moore said.
Neil Savage, a longtime volunteer with the Girl Scouts, and a longtime organizer of the Coastal Rompers program said more than 100 countries participate in the international cleanup day each year during the third weekend in September. The international event is organized by the Ocean Conservancy. The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation coordinates the New Hampshire event.
Volunteers don't just pick up the trash, but note every single piece of garbage collected. Each trash bag is then weighed before it is disposed of.
"The idea is to have almost like a snapshot of the ocean refuse all around the world, so we want to count at the same time," Savage said.
This year, the girls collected about 185 pounds of trash with the most frequently item collected, again, being cigarette butts. This year they picked up 507 butts. The most unusual items collected were a candle, a pair of shoes and a diaper.
Savage said the service component is a natural fit for many Girl Scouts who participate in other marine science and ocean exploration programming.He said the aim is both conservation and education, and through the programming, girls gain a better appreciation and respect for the environment around them.
Girl Scout Camden Tillinghast, 14, of Somersworth said she likes the sense of community the day brings."How we all kind of work together and work for something greater than ourselves individually," Tillinghast said.
In total last year, 2,690 pounds of trash was collected during NH Coastal Cleanup Day.