A Clean Sweep!

Looking for your TV remote, car keys, $20, dentures, or air pods? Clean Ocean Action (COA) Beach Sweeps volunteers found them and more on the beaches of New Jersey.

Their finds include a record number of 513,605 items, according to its 2021 Beach Sweeps Report released this week.. The premiere of the report occurs each Spring to rally more volunteers to attend the upcoming Spring Beach Sweeps on April 9, and to highlight the data that is collected during the event.

Clean Ocean Action is calling for volunteers to flock to beaches on Saturday, April 9, from 9am to 12:30pm, to give the beaches a good clean sweep before the summer, just as many marine species return to the shore.

Volunteers can sign-up to sweep at a record 75 locations along the coast.

To help COA reduce the use of plastic trash bags, volunteers are asked to bring their own repurposed bucket, bag, or other receptacle for trash collection; volunteers should also wear gloves and closed-toe, hard-soled shoes. Interested volunteers must pre-register at https://cleanoceanaction.org/aboutbeachsweeps

“Last year, over 10,000 volunteers welcomed the opportunity to gather safely, get outside, and give back by participating in the Beach Sweeps. As always, their hard work and diligent data collection provided COA with interesting insights about litter at the Jersey Shore. This is the first step toward identifying solutions to prevent these latest ‘ocean offenders’ from littering our beaches,” said Alison Jones, Watershed Program Manager.

The found items were collected at 70 locations in six hours during last year’s biannual Beach Sweeps. The report includes data highlights and trends, the twelve most commonly collected items, the most outrageous finds as well as the impact of the data.

The April and October Sweeps are part of New Jersey’s largest volunteer-driven, citizen science and environmental event with 70 site locations in 2021. The site locations are from Perth Amboy to Cape May with additional sites along the Delaware River and in Northern NJ. Over the years, 157,863 volunteers have contributed 947,178 volunteer hours to remove and record debris from NJ’s beaches and waterways.

“If you want to change the world, people power is the answer,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action. “The Beach Sweeps is proof positive of that fact. We are grateful and inspired by the dedication and true-blue spirit of volunteers.”

MAST teachers (Marine Academy of Science and Technology ) Liza Baskin and Claire Ng compile data collected by hundreds of volunteers at Sandy Hook . Included in items documented on New Jersey beaches which the Sweeps call “Ocean Offenders,” are cotton swab sticks, dental floss picks, disposable wipes, dog waste bags, e-cigarette cartridges, plastic food takeout containers, disposable and reusable face masks and disposable gloves. Plastic bottle caps and lids were the number one item picked up, replacing the former head of the “Dirty Dozen,” plastic pieces, which this year came in second. On a positive note, plastic beverage bottles, cigar tips, glass pieces, and plastic store/shopping bags all fell in the rankings, suggesting that the prevalence of these littered items may be on the decline.


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