BEach Clean

A Topsail Island North Carolina Project for Environmental Management

Our BEach Clean Initiative

Topsail Island is comprised of three towns and two counties that have come together for an island-wide project to help protect the beautiful beach that we all love to enjoy! Our island is a beautiful beach destination whether you are visiting for the day, week, or longer, and we want you to have a safe and memorable visit for years to come. To be successful in our efforts, we need YOUR help!”

( Image courtesy of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital)

Our BEach Clean Objectives

  • Education messages that which better inform the public that glass is banned on beaches
  • Accelerate the process of moving food packaging material to environmentally-approved friendly packaging material
  • Determine how to reduce impact of plastic bags and other waste in marsh areas
  • Adjust ordinances to ban the use of unencapsulated polystyrene in dock floats
  • Obtain recognition Encourage for businesses that move to environmentally-friendly activities to become “Ocean Friendly Establishments”
  • Island-Wide Education Message
    • “Enjoy our beaches & waterways but leave no trace.”
  • Ask for public support in a manner that is positive and informative

The BEach Clean initiative reminds us to be aware of protecting the environment by–
  • not bringing glass items to the beach.
  • not bringing food items wrapped in plastic film to the beach.
  • filling our sandcastle holes as we leave our beach spot
  • taking our beach furniture off the beach at end of the day
  • not leaving trash on the beach

Glass on the Beach

Imagine the setting where you are enjoying the beach with small children in your family who are running about delirious with the joy of playing in the sand or digging in the sand to make the greatest sandcastle ever. But all of a sudden you are awakened from the peacefulness around you to the shrieks and cries of one of those kids who has run across a broken piece of glass and endured a cut. (Photo Credit: Seba Sheavly, Sheavly Consultants, Inc.)

Plastic & Sea Turtles

Did you know, “Sea turtles are affected by plastic during every stage of their life. They crawl through plastic on the way to the ocean as hatchlings, swim through it while migrating, confuse it for jellyfish (one of their favorite foods), and then crawl back through it as adults.”
Learn more about the five ways plastic affects sea turtles.

SEE Turtles was launched in 2008 as the first worldwide effort to protect these species through ecotourism by conservationists Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and Brad Nahill. Photo credit: Ben J, Hicks

Plastic Bags and Bottles

It is amazing to watch a pod of dolphins breaching the wave surface as they scout for food and teach their young the ways of ocean life. Did I bring an item to the beach like a plastic bag, or disposable bottle that might attract that young dolphin who then ingests that item and suffers? 
(Image courtesy the BBC Blue Plant Live)

North Carolina Coastal Federation

Unencapsulated Polystyrene

Polystyrene is a petroleum product, commonly known as Styrofoam. It is often used in dock floats because of its buoyancy. It is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable and takes hundreds of years to degrade in the environment. When exposed to the elements, it fragments into unsightly, small, non- biodegradable pieces that may be ingested by marine life, wild and domestic water birds, and other wildlife. When ingested, the polystyrene fragments may block the digestive system of birds and animals, killing them through starvation. Aquatic and land mammals, other organisms, and nesting rodents hasten the fragmentation of polystyrene by forming nests in, under or on top of the material when seasonally stored on land. Photo courtesy of Joe Huie

The deterioration of larger polystyrene floats into beads and smaller pieces create a pollution line along shorelines, intertidal land, and other places where buoyant debris collects, which is a form of pollution and increases the chances of ingestion by water-dependent mammals and birds. Such pollution must be picked up and removed at the expense of the public and private citizens. To prevent such degradation, pollution and hazard to water-dependent mammals and birds, polystyrene floats may be encapsulated in a hard polyethylene shell, which prevents the deterioration and spread of beads and smaller sections of polystyrene floats. Photo courtesy of Joe Huie

Floating Docks

Marine Debris

The North Carolina Coastal Federation through a competitive grant program has been hiring watermen as well as encouraging volunteers to remove marine debris from North Carolina marshes where more than 300 tons of wood, paper, glass, metal and plastic were recovered from the marshes of Topsail Island!

Read about the NCCF Marine Debris program

Image courtesy NCCF

What are Microplastics? Microplastics are plastic synthetics made from fossil fuels or biomass that are less than 5 mm in diameter.

Ocean Friendly Establishments


Ocean Friendly Establishments was launched out of concern about the overwhelming amount of plastics polluting the Earth. Researchers have predicted there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by the year 2050. In an effort to reduce plastic pollution around the nation, owners and managers of certified OFEs have agreed to reduce plastic waste in their businesses by only serving straws upon request. As an individual, a small way to make a big impact is to skip the straw when ordering a beverage.”


“Not only does the OFE campaign include restaurants that make changes to avoid plastic waste and become more sustainable (such as choosing compostable materials and avoiding plastic straws, Styrofoam, and plastic bags), but it also advocates for sustainability and ocean friendly practices in non-restaurant establishments (such as providing recycling or composting containers for employees and encouraging electronic documentation).
​ Many of the OFEs incorporate additional methods of protecting our environment and have earned a higher status for their efforts, with a 5-star rating being the top-level certification.”

Visit Ocean Friendly Establishment to learn more and/or to encourage a business to become an OFE

Resources for the TISPC BEach Clean Initiative

Presentations and the various forms of the ‘BEach Clean’ logo are available for download and use for public education.

NCBIWAs presentation by Chairman Smith for the 2022 Spring Local Governments Meeting on Thursday and Friday May 5-6 at The Islander Hotel in Emerald Isle, NC


This version is the logo in ‘*.png’ format suitable for making a full size print.

This version is the logo in ‘*.jpg’ format suitable for making a full size print.

This version is the logo in ‘*.pdf’ format suitable for printing at various dimensions.

This version is the logo in ‘*.png’ format suitable for making a magnetic logo for metallic surfaces, like a refrigerator in a vacation home.

This version is the logo in ‘*.jpg’ format suitable for making a magnetic logo for metallic surfaces, like a refrigerator in a vacation home.

Links to Groups Supporting ‘Beach Clean’

Make It Your Nature to Protect North Carolina’s COASTAL OUTDOOR SPACES

Plastics and the Ocean

Plastic Pollution Affects Sea Life Throughout the Ocean

An article by Simon Reddy, Director, International Environment, the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2018 reports that 13 million metric tons of plastic end up floating in the ocean each year accounting for about 80% of marine debris. Read his article by clicking here

A sea turtle found in the Pacific Ocean had this debris in its stomach, according to The Ocean Cleanup, a foundation.
The Ocean Cleanup Foundation

NOAA A Guide to Plastic in the Ocean

Plastics are the most common form of marine debris. They can come from a variety of land and ocean-based sources; enter the water in many ways; and impact the ocean and Great Lakes. Once in the water, plastic debris never fully biodegrades. Yellow text in the above graphic shows sources of plastic that eventually end up in the ocean. Orange text shows ways that these plastics move into the ocean. Red text provides examples of the harmful impacts of this debris. | Infographic Text ” (Courtesy NOAA)

NOAA Marine Debris Program

Debris along the eastern shoreline of Eastern Island. This photo is a before shot from the 2016 marine debris removal mission. (Photo Credit: NOAA PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Program).

Click here to read the factsheet

The World’s Plastic Pollution Crisis

“Much of the planet is swimming in discarded plastic, which is harming animal and possibly human health. Can it be cleaned up?” BY LAURA PARKER pub. JUNE 7, 2019. Read her article in the National Geographic magazine by clicking here (views limited)

Ocean Plastics Pollution

A Global Tragedy for Our Oceans and Sea Life

Photo courtesy Center for Biological Diversity

“Plastic accumulating in our oceans and on our beaches has become a global crisis. Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences that make up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. At current rates plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.” Read the story on the Biological Diversity web site

The Problem of Marine Plastic Pollution

Clean Water Action was founded in 1972 after the passage of the Clean Water Act. This is a broad based collation of citizens concerned about all aspects of clean drinking water. The Marine Plastic Pollution issue is one of many initiatives by the group. Click here to visit their website

Ocean Conservancy

The Problem with Plastics

It is amazing to realize that 8 million metric tons of plastic goes into the world’s ocean in a single year – and this figure is a 10-yr-old estimate!

Learn more about the Problem with Plastics

Image courtesy of the non-profit Ocean Conservancy