Editor's Take: Garbage Mars the Morning Beaches

Ditch Plain on Sunday morning All photographs by David E. Rattray

As a surfer and frequent early morning beachgoer, I think I see East Hampton's oceanfront at its worst. This is the hours after dawn and before the town and village crews make their rounds. These days, what is left from the night before is something to see.

This summer, as garbage on the beaches has become a hot issue, I started documenting some of the nastier debris I have come across. Much of the mess comes from food waste, paper plates, and the like left in bags alongside already-filled trash cans. It puzzles me what kind of person would do that; probably urban or suburban dwellers accustomed to threading their way among the mountainous heaps of garbage left on the street for municipal pickup. For the raccoons and seagulls and rats it is a bonanza, as they tear through everything they can, looking for an easy meal.

It seems insane to expect public employees to pick up trash that should have been taken home by the people who produced it. And it is outrageous that those of us who like to be on the beach early in the day have to look at daily reminders of all this thoughtlessness. Our ocean shore is a sacred place; it's just too bad that not everyone treats it in that spirit.

One more thing: It has gotten so bad that there are now regular can-pickers on the Montauk beach, collecting empties for the 5-cent deposits.

Along downtown Montauk, several empty boxes of golf balls (hit into the ocean?) and Bud Lite cans everywhere
Main Beach, East Hampton Village
Georgica Beach, East Hampton Village
Georgica again. Looks like it was a heck of a party.
And one last at Georgica for good measure