For many of us, the beach means sand and sunshine. But it can also mean trash and litter, and last year, nearly 300 bags of trash were collected from the coastal beaches of New Brunswick.

Today, the Nature Trust of New Brunswick will be doing the annual Great Fundy Coastal Cleanup, and is expanding to 18 sites from 13, from Moncton to St. Stephen.

"The cleanup has been going on for 24 years," said Renata Woodward, executive director of the Nature Trust of New Brunswick.

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Last year, the cleanup volunteers gathered trash from the shore of the Barnes Island Nature Preserve in the Bay of Fundy. (Curtis Richardson/Nature Trust NB )

Woodward said the organization doesn't expect the year-round pileup of beach garbage to lessen for a while.

"We are really hoping to see a shift in the behaviour of people," she said.

It isn't all cans and bottles tossed by beach vistitors, however. Some of the debris has washed ashore.

And over the years, the organization has found some interesting things on the beaches..

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Some of the debris picked up during the annual cleanup hosted by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick is washed ashore. (Curtis Richardson/Nature Trust of New Brunswick )

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"There is always unique things," said Woodward. "Sometimes you will find 30 pairs of shoes on one island. I think that we had military equipment on one of our islands."

If it is safe to transport the objects, volunteers are encouraged to bring their more unusual finds to Black's Harbour, where prizes will be given out for the most interesting items.

Woodward said some industry is receptive to the need to keep beaches clean.

"Much of the industrial garbage is accidental," she said.

'We also do the art with the garbage. Yes, art and garbage.'
- Renata Woodward, executive director Nature Trust of New Brunswick 

"It is improving, beyond just collecting garbage, there are initiatives that lead to recycling of some of the materials found in the ocean. It's been great to work with the industrial partners who do care about their coast line as well."

Volunteers lead the way

Along with the increase in the number sites, the number of volunteers has increased as well. This year, 150 volunteers will hit the beaches, compared with 100 the trust saw last year.

Volunteer Wayne Burley will be visiting Thompson Marsh, in the community of Chance Harbour.

"Certainly, the initiatives has grown from last year," he said. "It's much bigger and better this year."

Garbage turned into art

He said he hopes people learn from the example the trust is setting.

"In the meantime, at the nature preserves we show leadership and use these places as examples of how the natural environment should be maintained."

Woodward said there will be a barbecue for the volunteers in Blacks Harbour after everything is clean. Art works will be created out of the items people bring back.

"We also do the art with the garbage," she said. "Yes, art and garbage."