When people come to the New Jersey shore during the summer, they want to check their worries at the door.
But most still want to do what's right by the environment. Nothing inspires you to think about what you can do to protect the beauty of nature more than spending a week at the beach.
So what's a local or a shoobie to do this summer to help old Mother Nature? Simple, just have fun at the shore.
Summer standards like amusement parks and fishing adventures are going green to earn your green this summer.
Here are just a few ways that the New Jersey shore is making coastal recreation and entertainment more eco-friendly than ever.
E-mail Ben Leach: BLeach@pressofac.com
Cutting the carbon at Morey's Piers
For 40 years, people have been cashing in their paper tickets to ride the different amusements at Morey's Piers in Wildwood. The more tickets you had, the bigger privileges you received. Who would want to ride the Tea Cups if you had enough tickets instead for the Sky Coaster?
But when you attract hundreds of thousands of visitors over the summer, that's an awful lot of paper tickets ending up in a landfill.
Morey's Piers recently began using rechargeable cards, similar to those used by Disney World and other amusement parks. But that's not the only thing they've been doing to green up the piers in time for the tourists.
"We're already the cleanest amusement park in the world," said Norris Clark, a spokesman for Morey's Piers. "But we need to get with the program."
Many of the piers attractions, such as the Giant Ferris Wheel, used hundreds of conventional light bulbs. Those bulbs were phased out in 2006 in favor of LED lights. Not only do the LED lights use less electricity, but they can be programmed to give off a light show that's become a tourist attraction in its own right.
Recycling has also become its own attraction. Morey's has 150 Coca Cola bottle-shaped recycling bins spread across its three piers. With eight LED signs reminding people to recycle their plastic bottles, it's hard to miss the opportunity to keep plastic away from the landfill.
Stroke of Genius
You can tell its summer when the local marinas are filled with tourists eager to hop into a boat and get out on the water.
Now, more and more are doing so while having less of an impact on the environment. That because outboard boat motors have undergone some radical changes in recent years.
For most of the twentieth century, recreational boaters clung to their two-stroke outboard motors. The motors were light, relatively easy to repair, and could accelerate with ease.
But they also produced a significant amount of pollution, which caught the attention of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 1998, the agency began regulating outboard motor emissions. The agency mandated that outboards built after 2005 produce 75 percent less emissions.
The solution was a four-stroke motor. The engines produced less emissions, but when it came to performance, they were initially heavier and harder to repair.
In 2009, however, reservations about four-strokes seem to have sunk.
"This area seems to be four-stroke heaven right now," said Jim Picklo, a spokesman for the Somers Point Marina.
Picklo said four-stroke outboard motors are used mostly in pleasure and commercial craft. One of the more appealing aspects is that the motors can be used on any body of water, including lakes and rivers.
Four-strokes conserve fuel in a couple of different ways. They're more fuel efficient than two-strokes, but Picklo said they're also less prone to oil spills.
And as manufacturers like Honda and Yamaha become more familiar with the designs, boaters are now able to get the kind of performance that used to be reserved for a two-stroke motor.
Environmentally friendly fishing
The New Jersey shore is a great place to fish, and so there's plenty of monofilament fishing lines to go around.
But when the fish are caught - or if they get away, depending on how your day goes - and fishermen are ready to head home, the monofilament waste can end up sticking around for a very long time.
The discarded line can also pose a hazard to fish, birds, and other marine life that get tangled in snarls of discarded line. If the monofilament gets caught in a boat motor, the repairs can cost thousands of dollars.
That's why the state Department of Environmental Protection has begun setting up monofilament recycling bins.
One such bin was installed at Captain Mike's Marina in Tuckerton at the end of 2008. Even though it's right above the trash can, some people still don't notice it. But at least one customer is making sure that wasted monofilament ends up in the bin, according to Tim O'Mara, the marina's owner.
"He's going through trash cans," O'Mara said. "He could fill (the bin) up in a week."
Fishermen also are paying a bit more these days to weight their lines. Lead shot was banned by the state's Fish and Wildlife Service a few years ago. Only non-toxic shot can be used for hunting or to weight fishing lines.
O'Mara does a number of other things to keep his Marina clean. Boats at the marina need to be washed inland so that grime and cleaning chemicals don't end up in the water. He also uses eco-friendly chemicals such as Rust-Aid to keep his boats as clean as possible.
Preventing pollution with playgrounds
What fun can children have with 97,720 old milk jugs?
Apparently, they can use them for swing sets, sliding boards, and other playground essentials.
The Sandcastle Park playground in Ocean City reopened just in time for the Independence Day weekend. The new park is made out of 100 percent recycled materials.
In addition to the recycled milk jugs that were used in the park's plastic fixtures, 5,593 pounds of scrap metal were used to create the metal frame of the playground.
"Sometimes, you end up saving money and end up doing the right thing," said Jim Rutala, city administrator for Ocean City.
In addition to the recycled materials used, the playground manufacturer BigToys took steps to make sure that the playground was created as environmentally responsibly as possible.
For example, the parts were all shipped via rail to reduce carbon emissions by about 41 percent compared to shipping by trucks. The playground equipment is also completely free of PVCs.
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