Citizens Called to Action for April 30, 2011 

Sandy Hook, NJ----Clean Ocean Action (COA) released the 2010 Beach Sweeps Report today, highlighting the Dirty Dozen, Roster of the Ridiculous, and the totals for over 95 items of marine debris collected by volunteers in 2010.  The results smash all records for participation and debris and a few items increased dramatically.

2010 marked Clean Ocean Action’s 25th Anniversary of Beach Sweeps, which celebrated a generation of citizen action against beach litter.  The Beach Sweeps has become New Jersey’s largest environmental event with thousands of citizens combing nearly all 127 miles of coastline.  The spring event coincides with Earth Month to provide citizens with an educational, hands-on, meaningful, and rewarding activity to make a real difference.

“The Beach Sweeps is a beachy opportunity for the tall and the small to give back to their ocean, take a stand against litter, and rid the shores of marine debris.  During these 25 years, citizens have also created a legacy of information that we can use to fight for better anti-litter programs and educate people about the harms caused by marine debris to the economy and wildlife,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.

25 Years of Legacy Information

To highlight the achievements of citizen action, Clean Ocean Action held New Jersey’s first Symposium Against Beach Litter and published the Journal of Citizen Action Against Beach Litter which evaluates 15 years of Beach Sweep data and identifies actions, regulations, and laws to reduce pollution that utilized the data.  (viewable at www.cleanoceanaction.org)

The Symposium kicked off a remarkable year for Beach Sweeps, bringing out a record number of volunteers (8,372 citizens) who collected more debris than ever (471,321items).  Once again though, the majority of the debris removed was disposable plastics—items designed to be used once and thrown away.  Plastic including foam represents over 80% of the total waste found.  It is clear: these “disposable items” are washing-up on our beaches in greater numbers than we have ever seen before.

“The Beach Sweeps is much more than picking up garbage, rather it is the opportunity for participants to experience the extent of New Jersey’s pollution problem first hand at a time when the beaches are not being cleaned by the local municipalities,” stated Tavia Danch, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, who implements the Beach Sweeps program.    “Most importantly, we hope that volunteers understand the connection between non-point source pollution and everyday choices, such as consumerism,” concluded Danch.

How 2010 Compares to Previous Years

In comparing the previous 16 years of data to 2010, increases were seen in a number of items, especially plastics (which includes foam): notably plastic bags and bottles caps.  As the number of volunteers has increased, so has the amount of trash removed.  In 2010, almost 50 items were collected in record amounts. 

“Pollution continues to flow from many non-point sources on land and combined sewer outfalls in the New York City and New Jersey metropolitan area,” said Clean Ocean Action’s Staff Scientist, Heather Saffert, PhD, who reviewed the data from 1993-2010.  “We are fortunate that there are so many dedicated people who care about the ocean and volunteer to pick up the trash and save marine life from its damaging effects.”

Call to Action

“Beach Sweeps have become a three generation family tradition-- inaugural Beach Sweepers who brought their children are now bringing their children.  Scout troops, businesses, corporations, youth groups, schools, seniors, and elected leaders all come together to clean up shorelines,” said Cindy Zipf.  “While this is a great way to give back to the ocean, which gives us endless joy and bounty, we hope one day to have clean beaches naturally and no longer need Sweeps events.  Until that day, we need you, and urge all to join a Beach Sweep,” she added.

There are over 65 locations throughout the state, so find your favorite beach and join the effort,” she added.

As a coalition of concerned citizens and businesses, Clean Ocean Action is grateful for the support of our 2010 Beach Sweeps Statewide sponsors: Comcast, Aveda, Atlantic City Electric, Verizon, and Bank of America.  We also appreciate those who have sponsored individual sites all along the shore.  We are especially proud to announce that in 2011, we will be adding five new statewide sponsors: Ricoh Business Systems, Montecalvo Disposal Services, ImaginOcean, Wakefern/ShopRite, and United Teletech Financial.  These responsible businesses have seen the value of the Sweeps and have made it possible to continue the program at this magnitude.

“Comcast is pleased to again partner with Clean Ocean Action on Comcast Cares Day to help rid beaches of unsightly and harmful debris.  Twenty five years of COA Beach Sweeps and 10 years of Comcast Cares Days prove that volunteers, individuals, families, schools, and groups working together can make a big difference,” said Bill Kettleson, Regional Vice President Government and Community Affairs, Comcast.

Citizens are encouraged to celebrate Earth Month by attending a Beach Sweep on April 30th from 9a.m. – 12p.m.  For a listing of the site locations, as well as the complete Beach Sweep Report, please go to http://cleanoceanaction.org/index.php?id=777