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1,000 volunteers cleaned up every beach in Mass. on Saturday

"This is about sustainability, it’s about soul, but it’s also about community, and if we can bring those three things together and have a good time while we’re doing it then we’re truly doing something that means something."

Volunteers get ready for the cleanup at Longnook Beach in Truro, Mass. Willie's Superbrew

On Saturday, teams of volunteers hit every coastal beach in Massachusetts and cleaned up over 1,600 pounds of trash and debris, and it was all coordinated by a local hard seltzer company.

You may have heard of Willie’s Superbrew — colorful cans with “hard seltzer + real fruit” emblazoned at the top. The Cape Cod-born company has long had a connection with the sea, and the ocean cleanups are a way of giving back and connecting with the community.

CEO Nico Enriquez co-founded Willie’s Superbrew with Willie, an “eclectic local goat farmer,” after they bonded over a game of beach volleyball and Willie’s ginger home-brew. The two cooked up a product that got popular at local farmer’s markets and then started shipping all over New England. 

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When Willie passed away in 2019, Enriquez decided the company needed to do something to honor who he was and where the Superbrew was born.

Two volunteers show off their collected debris at Brant Rock Beach in Marshfield, Mass. – Willie’s Superbrew

“Every year you see the ocean eroding the dunes and it’s really tangible when you’re out there in a way that you can’t ignore it,” he said. “Willie and I met there and we were born there, so we wanted to support it. …So we decided to clean every beach across Cape Cod, and we brought together 340 volunteers, we picked up 1,400 pounds of trash, and we had an effort where we were doing something good for the community and environment, but we were coming together to do something bigger.”

On Saturday, over 1,000 volunteers cleaned 192 miles of beach in Massachusetts, picking up 32,755 pieces of debris. Ricky Lewis, 37, joined family in Provincetown to help cleanup Race Point Beach. 

“We spent about two hours and filled up six contractor-sized bags — a lot of cigarette butts, bottle caps, tons of gnarly rope that wasn’t necessarily nautical, lot of styrofoam, plastic bags, food wrappers, used chip bags, things like that,” he told Boston.com. “The Cape Cod beaches are so clean when you’re on them as a beach-goer, but when you really get up in the muck and are really paying attention — it was pretty eye-opening to see how much discarded garbage there actually was.”

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Enriquez isn’t just focused on Massachusetts, however. The dream, he said, is to one day build a movement to clean every beach in the country in Willie’s name, and he’s already been expanding.

A volunteer bags up a discarded sneaker at Chappoquit Beach in Falmouth, Mass. – Willie’s Superbrew

On April 17, Willie’s Superbrew partnered with Clean Ocean Action to mobilize 4,000 volunteers in New Jersey, who together cleaned 160 miles of beach and picked up 201,848 pieces of debris. In May, Willie’s coordinated a Long Island beach cleanup with 600 volunteers who cleaned 50 miles of beach and collected 20,228 pieces of trash. 

“This is about sustainability, it’s about soul, but it’s also about community, and if we can bring those three things together and have a good time while we’re doing it then we’re truly doing something that means something,” Enriquez said. “It makes people feel like they can create change in a world that, a lot of times it feels inevitable that things go off the tracks and the environment might be decaying, but this allows us to turn that narrative.

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