Voodoo doll, whoopie cushion, denture powder among bizarre trash plucked from Jersey Shore

Volunteers with the Clean Ocean Action environmental group removed over 175,000 items from the state's coastline last year, including pineapples, tires and leg hair remover.

A bottle sits on the Jersey Shore

An alcoholic beverage bottle sits on the sand in Brick N.J. on Thursday, April 4, 2024, the day that the Clean Ocean Action Environmental Group released a report showing that volunteers picked up and disposed of 176,206 items of trash along New Jersey's 127-mile coastline last year. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Jersey Shore beach season is almost here, and if last year is any indication, it will soon be time to pack the voodoo dolls, whoopie cushions, zip ties and denture powder.

Those were just a few of the bizarre items plucked from the sands of New Jersey’s beaches last year by volunteers with the Clean Ocean Action environmental group, according to a report the group released Thursday.

Nearly 3,700 volunteers picked up and disposed of 176,206 items along the state’s 127-mile (204 kilometer) coastline. Many were mundane and sadly common, like bottle caps, cigarettes and plastic pieces.

Then there are the oddities: a 50-pound bag of rice; a Baby Yoda doll; a severed Barbie head. And then there was the food fryer. Who even BRINGS a food fryer to the beach, much less leaves it behind?

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Also left seaside were boxer shorts; a bra; a bikini; fake eyelashes; fishnet stockings and a jockstrap; along with a pregnancy test, result unknown.

Cindy Zipf is executive director of Clean Ocean Action, which has carried out beach sweeps at the beginning and end of beach season since 1985. They’ve collected nearly 8.5 million items of trash, recycling what can be reprocessed. She called the report a “guilt list of our region’s worst littering ways.”

“It’s hard to fathom,” she said. “From the quirky to the funny to really just plain gross, you just can’t make this stuff up.”

Nearly 80% of the total haul was plastic in some form. Bottle caps and lids accounted for over 13% of the total haul, followed by food and candy wrappers or bags, miscellaneous plastic pieces, cigarette butts and more than 10,000 plastic straws or beverage stirrers.

But others could only be described as head-scratching, particularly considering that they were left behind on a public beach.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Take, for instance, the ample supply of auto parts. These included an automobile gas tank, four car batteries, a bumper, an air compressor and 24 tires.

At least some beachgoers were well-groomed as they littered. Volunteers found an electric razor; a container of body hair remover (because there was nowhere to plug in the razor?); denture cleansing powder; scissors; and a full-length mirror.

There was a dustpan, a Philadelphia Eagles banner, two crock pots with lids, and a small refrigerator.

And of course, there was leftover food: six pineapples and a coconut, a fortune cookie, a can of tuna, and a box of Valentine’s candy.

That last one just proves that Jersey Shore beach sweeps are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal