Beaches along the Jersey Shore are absolutely beautiful. From the smooth sand to gentle ocean breezes, people visit year-round to enjoy everything the Jersey Shore has to offer.

But with that beauty, comes a problem that's been ongoing for far too long here in the Garden State. The unfortunate flip side of our beaches at the Shore.

All too often, garbage washes ashore on our beaches. Now to be fair, it's not always due to those who visit, but there is a fair amount of people that leave trash behind and contribute to this ongoing problem.

Aside from that, litter washes into our waterways through other means. Most commonly, trash ends up in our storm drains and washes out to sea.

It's annoying enough to have to deal with whenever visiting the beaches. It's also embarrassing when people leave a good amount of garbage behind. But probably even worse than that is the impact it can have on marine life.

Entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook
Entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook (Bud McCormick)
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Back in December 2021, a sperm whale washed ashore on the beaches of Sandy Hook, NJ. At the time, the cause of death was unknown. Now in early 2022, we have the answer to what killed it. The cause of death was due to humans.

A piece of fabric was found inside the animal, which affected its digestive system. As a result, it caused the whale to have internal problems, wash ashore, and die.

Dead fish litter the beach in Belmar
Dead fish litter the beach in Belmar (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
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Problems with marine creatures losing its life thanks to human activity are very unfortunate. It's made even worse when it involves complications due to human trash.

Volunteer girl in yellow gloves collects garbage selective focus
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This problem alone is a major reason why New Jersey's plastic bag ban is necessary and long overdue. And even though this particular incident at the Jersey Shore didn't involve plastic bags, there are many documented instances where that was the case.

Plastic bags are also cited as one of the primary types of trash that cause death to marine animals, which further validates the necessity of this ban.

Plastic bags banned in these NJ spots in 2019 , which NJ towns ban plastic bags
Plastic bags (Erin Vogt, Townsquare Media)
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Now, this won't solve the overall problem of litter washing into our waterways, but it's a step in the right direction. This incident that occurred in Sandy Hook, NJ, is exactly why we need to build on the plastic bag ban here in the Garden State for more positive change.

Sea Turtle eat plastic bag ocean pollution concept
Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Hopefully, our neighboring states will take notice and follow New Jersey's example. Anything we can do to help save marine life and reduce litter in our waterways and on our beaches is a step in the right direction.

woman holding glass at water tap and filling water.
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We also can't forget the impact this has on our well-being. Chemicals from plastic bags and other types of trash can affect our drinking water, which can cause illness or worse for humans and other land animals.

It won't be easy at first, but New Jersey will adopt alternatives to plastic bags. Hopefully, this change in behavior will result in a positive outcome for our waterways and marine life.

Sandy Hook, NJ
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To learn more about the sperm whale incident at Sandy Hook, Click here.

Hopefully, New Jersey's plastic bag ban is only the beginning of more positive changes to come when it comes to litter in the Garden State.

A secluded look at the Asbury Park boardwalk during the off-season

A very different vibe outside of summer from one of New Jersey's most iconic boardwalks.

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