If we don't act now, we could see a very different future over the years in Barnegat Bay.

Most of Ocean County, along the eastern section anyway, can see most of the Barnegat Bay as this body of water runs from the Point Pleasant Canal all the way down to the Little Egg Inlet.

This 42-miles of water and 660 square miles of watershed/land also touches in parts of Monmouth County and Burlington County as well.

If you've gone swimming, boating, to the beach, just relaxing by the water, and so on, you've experienced and seen part of the Barnegat Bay and more has to be done to protect it from the elements and people using it as their own recycling and garbage dump.

The Barnegat Bay Partnership is dedicated year round to studying the bay and yearly put together their findings in multiple reports including the 'State of the Bay' report so that we all have a better understanding of what's happened, what's going on, and what needs to be done.

One part of their ongoing campaign as we close out June and head into July is related to litter.

"We are rolling out this trash-free-waters campaign and it's got a lot of different pieces," Dr. Stan Hales, Director of the Barnegat Bay Partnership, tells Townsquare Media News. "Essentially, we're trying to emphasize that Barnegat Bay is worth more than one use -- using single use plastics and things like that is creating an issue statewide, that's why the state's been very aggressive in restricting single use plastics and other things. Plastics have lots of problems, they're very long lived, they persist in the environment, they don't break down the way we might like things to break down in a harmless fashion. However they accumulate, and wherever they do persist, animals can ingest them, they can bite off pieces, they cause their own issues because of some of the chemicals they're made of, or the chemicals that stick to them."

Dr. Hales explains that they're hoping to get to the sources of the problems and find solutions.

"If we can keep these things out of the environment, we don't have the cost of cleanup, we don't have the cost of recycling," Hales said. "The county spends a lot of money on recycling -- recycling is not the same world that it was 20-years ago, we have more and different kinds of plastics, the way we handle them and recycle them is changing all the time and presents a lot of challenges to the government and to the public."

One of the simple solutions everyone everywhere can do is to use reusable items.

"Take that nice, expensive cup with a designer logo on it that's got a metal base and a core installation and everything else -- use reusable products, I mean, they may be a little more expensive up front, but they're cheaper in the long run, you're not very likely to throw that $20-beer mug out in the bay," Hales said.

It's also important to be respectful and throw your garbage in the garbage and recyclables in the recycling can and not just toss it or leave it wherever.

You can listen to the full interview Dr. Stan Hales and Karen Walzer from the Barnegat Bay Partnership had on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave', right here.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

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