By CBSNewYork Team

LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Wearing personal protective equipment is the socially responsible thing to do during the pandemic.

Environmentalists CBS2’s Meg Baker spoke with say properly disposing of it is also the socially responsible thing to do, as more and more PPE is being found on beaches, harming wildlife.

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Discarded masks, gloves, wipes and more have been found up and down beaches on the Jersey coastline this past year.

“We found over a thousand items that volunteers classified as PPE. So, that was 680 masks, quite a number of disposable rubber gloves, disposable wipes,” said Alison Jones of Clean Ocean Action.

That was just on one Saturday. Clean Ocean Action, a group that works to protect waterways and the species that live in and near them, is organizing volunteers for a beach sweep April 17th.

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“It’s a very good activity for friends and families. You can do it socially distanced. It’s great exercise, you get to be outside and it’s simple,” said Margot Fernicola, beach sweep captain at Loch Arbour.

Fernicola has been a beach sweep captain for more than 10 years.

“None of that trash you see on the ground will go away. It will just blow to an ocean, an estuary or a wetland,” she said.

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The members remind people when leaving the beach – or really anywhere – to take your trash with you and properly dispose of it.

The sweeps are also educational, a reminder to look at the items we use everyday and make a change. The group says disposable dental flossing tools have become a big problem.

“We have been plagued by plastics. Our ocean is just literally filling up,” said Clean Ocean Action Executive Director Cindy Zipf. ” Use less disposable items and use more reusable items. It’s a very simple idea and we just have to break our plastic habit.”

The trash is extremely hazardous to wildlife.

“Birds can get entangled in the strings of our masks,” Jones said. “Other marine wildlife might try to eat the masks, which of course is not healthy for them and can ultimately lead to their deaths.”

Clean Ocean Action’s slogan is “be the solution to pollution.”

To sign up for a beach sweep in your area, CLICK HERE.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team