Ocean City’s Anti-Litter Campaign Sees Mixed Early Results

Ocean City’s Anti-Litter Campaign Sees Mixed Early Results
The beach in Ocean City is pictured in early June. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Officials last week shared the successes and shortcomings of an ongoing anti-litter campaign.

Last week, members of the Ocean City Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, provided an update on the town’s Litter Free OC campaign.

“We did the best we could,” said Gail Blazer, the town’s environmental engineer. “We put it out there and got a lot of notoriety and press. But I think in June and early July, we just had clientele that didn’t have the social responsibility they should have. It’s just what happens, what we have to deal with.”

Late last year, the Green Team, began discussing ways to address a growing litter problem in Ocean City after a particularly troublesome summer season.

Despite the efforts of the town’s public works department and various volunteer cleanup programs, officials noted the town continued to experience larger-than-average trash volume, which was largely attributed to an increase in carryout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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To that end, the Green Team joined forces with town departments, environmental organizations, private businesses and local schools to launch a multi-faceted initiative called “Litter Free OC.”

At the beginning of the summer season, Ocean City launched its extensive anti-litter campaign, using advertisements, social media posts and the like to promote the town’s education and enforcement efforts. In an update last week, however, Blazer said the town continued to see a significant amount of litter along the streets.

“Public works is still doing a great job,” she said. “When I go out to the beach and Boardwalk and walk, it’s beautiful. But walking down the streets, it’s not. They can’t get to it.”

Blazer said she was hoping to further address the town’s litter problems by launching a weekly street cleanup. She said volunteers would be able to pick up gloves and trash bags at town hall each Monday and select a street to clean. Cleanups will be held from 10-11 a.m.

“Let’s just set something up, where people can come down and get some service learning hours …,” she said. “The focus will be on downtown because that’s where the problems are.”

Blazer said the town would also be participating in cleanup events in the coming months including the International Coastal Cleanup, which will be held Sept. 11 from 9 a.m. to noon.

“It will be stationed here at city hall,” she said. “People can come, kids can come from the school, and pick up supplies. Basically, we’ll send them out wherever they want.”

Blazer also told committee members last week the Litter Free OC website, oceancity.green, continued to accept pledges from individuals and businesses.

“I feel really comfortable that we’ve gotten the word out,” she said. “It’s just hard to deal with the clientele we are dealing with, not to be disrespectful. It’s hard.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.