Recently the "Shuck It, Don't Chuck It!" program, the American Littoral Society's shell recycling initiative, collected its millionth shell. That shell also brought our overall total of shells recycled to nearly 37,000 pounds this year and 32 tons since the program launched in 2015.
This incredible milestone wouldn't have been possible without the dedication and support of our amazing supporters. Funded by grants and driven in large part by volunteer oyster wranglers and community helpers - such as participating restaurants - each shell collected represents a step towards the long-term goal of re-oystering New Jersey's bays and estuaries.
The shells we collect take a full-circle journey, from briny waters to your plate, then to our bins, and eventually back to our shorelines where they can help spawn more oysters. By recycling these shells, we're not only reducing waste that ends up in landfills but also providing essential material for the Littoral Society's shoreline restoration projects such as the reefs we've built to protect locations along Delaware and Barnegat Bay. These reefs also play a role in improving water quality and providing habitat for marine life.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed, whether you've joined us for a Sip 'N Shuck event (which also promotes our aqua-culture partners with the Barnegat Oyster Collective), volunteered your time to carry shells to our curing site on Sandy Hook, or helped spread the word about this program. Your efforts have brought us here and will help carry us on.
Also, a special shout-out to the restaurants that have made provisions for holding their shell until our bright yellow Shuck It Truck can come by for collection and the sites that have devoted space for community drop-off sites - like the Borough of Rumson and Shore Fresh Seafood Market & Restaurant in Point Pleasant Beach.
The oyster shell recycling program is supported through grants from the Marta Heflin Foundation and NOAA Fisheries, as well as the time our Oyster Wrangler volunteers and participating restaurants (find those restaurants listed on our website).