The Tale of the Trash

Love Blue Monmouth removes nearly 1,000 lbs. from local beaches.

Katie Marshall would love to tell you the coast is clear, but her experience proves otherwise.

As president of Love Blue Monmouth, a student club dedicated to protecting the beach and coastal environment, Marshall helped organize five cleanups at beaches near campus last semester that removed a whopping 376 pounds of trash. The items ranged from the standard to the stunning.

“We had one cleanup where there was an entire dinner set left on the beach,” Marshall said. “It makes you wonder how people can be so inconsiderate.” 

Love Blue is now in its seventh semester on campus. Through December 2023, the club had organized 15 events at which 462 participants cleaned up 921 pounds of trash. The most common items collected have been plastic bottle caps and straws. Marshall, a junior marine and environmental biology and policy student, attributes much of the club’s success to the buy-in by other campus clubs and Greek organizations, whose members are showing up at cleanups in strong numbers and sometimes contacting Love Blue Monmouth to co-organize events. The club has also garnered support from the local business community, with merchants including The Herd Juicery, Jack’s Goal Line Stand, and Tak Waterman contributing refreshments and prizes at events.

Beyond removing trash, Marshall believes the experience of participating in cleanups is making students more conscious of ocean and beach pollution and how their choices could contribute to it. Looking ahead, she hopes to expand the club’s footprint to organize cleanups at beaches that need help a bit further from campus, such as Sandy Hook. She would also like to build new partnerships with local church groups and schools, some of which could take advantage of the opportunities to gain community service hours.