CARTERET COUNTY, NC (WITN) - Marine debris is a growing problem along our coast and nationwide.
From picking up water bottles and plastic bags to cigarette butts, some students in Carteret County are doing something about it.
The Duke University Marine Lab Community Science program educates students about the effects of marine debris on the environment.
Tiller School student, Dillon Reed, said "When you see what our marine debris does to our animals, it's really fun to come out and basically help the earth stay nice and clean."
On Friday, students from the Tiller School helped clean up trash at the Rachel Carson Reserve.
"It's really a good learning experience for us, because a lot of this isn't ours, but if we do it now, we can take a part for other people," said Gray Fickling.
Liz Demattia works with the marine labs and says the students care about the trash in their own backyard.
"They really care about this area that we live in, and they have noticed thhrough their research, they like to tell people 'by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!" she said.
There is a statewide effort called the #Trashtag challenge that encourages people to take before and after photos of their cleanup efforts.
Paula Gilikin with the North Carolina Coastal Reserve said, "It empowers people and excites people and it's been very contagious and successful."
The reserve says more than 35,000 pounds of debris has been removed from the Rachel Carson Reserve in the last decade.