VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The beach is a place we treasure — and also one that gets a lot of abuse — from both mother nature and from people. A walk on the beach can be dangerous because of all of the litter found buried in the sand.
Last year, 10 On Your Side introduced you to the “Better Beach Project.” A local couple started it to get things like broken glass and bottle caps off of the beach. In one year, they collected about 800 gallons of trash — and hope that’s just the beginning.
The beach is Brad Milliken’s happy place, but constantly seeing broken glass and bottle caps — he had enough.
“Once it hurt my dog, that was kind of the final straw,” Milliken said. “How hard would it have been for someone to pick up the piece of glass that got stuck in my dog’s paw? Not hard. Either nobody noticed or nobody cared and we wanted to fix that.”
Milliken and his wife created the Better Beach Project, which partners with local businesses to incentivize cleaning the beach. The Freedom Surf Shop is one of the places where you can fill containers and get something in return.
“Our livelihood is basically in tune with the beach and the ocean,” said Freedom Surf Shop Owner Dave Shotton. “As a surfer, one of our golden rules was always to walk off the beach with a piece of trash. Always. This is taking it to a whole other level.”
The Better Beach Project recently joined the non-profit Surfrider Foundation.
“It’s a really good fit for us,” said Virginia Beach Surfrider Foundation Chair Nick Gallegos. “It was something that we were trying to branch out more in Chick’s Beach and the Norfolk area.”
In one year, the Better Beach Project partnered with 18 businesses, handed out 1500 containers and collected nearly 800 gallons of trash. “Every time you dive in the sand, every time you go for a run, this is the kind of stuff that’s hanging out,” Milliken said.
For year two, they are on track to partner with more than 60 businesses, and just got their first order of 5,000 containers.
That’s why they are energized for the future of our beaches — and hope you are, too.
Milliken said, “We want people to care. We want people to take ownership in their community.”
“Better Beach Project” is kicking off year 2 with a beach clean up March 18 at 2 p.m. at the 15th Street pier at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.