coa beach sweep 1Calls for Volunteers for Earth Day Clean Up April 22!

Sandy Hook, NJ — Clean Ocean Action (COA) released the 2016 Beach Sweeps Report highlighting the twelve most commonly collected items (“The Dirty Dozen”) along with the most outrageous finds (“The Roster of the Ridiculous”) and the breakdown of 218,807 pieces of marine debris collected by volunteers last year.  With over 70 locations, the Beach Sweeps is New Jersey’s largest volunteer-driven environmental cleanup. The report was co-written by Kari Martin and Mary-Beth Thompson of Clean Ocean Action.


coa beach sweep 2

Numbers were down sharply due to rainy, gusty weather during last year’s Fall event.  The wet weather made for soggy data cards, yet over 1,257 volunteers braved the conditions and removed over 65,000 pieces of marine debris.

The data creates a legacy of information that is used to fight for better anti-litter programs and educate people about the harms caused by marine debris to the economy and wildlife. The spring event coincides with Earth Month to provide citizens with an educational, hands-on, meaningful, and rewarding activity to make a real difference.

“Over the last 30 years of Beach Sweeps we have seen the types of debris change in quantity and quality, but two things remain the same. First, litter, especially plastic, is harmful and even lethal to marine life and it is on the rise.  Second, you can always count on the small and the tall to volunteer to help clean up beaches. “We call that Jersey Pride,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “Of course our goal is to have clean beaches naturally by reducing litter, but in the meantime, we are grateful to all—sponsors, Beach Captains, and volunteers. In total, over 115,820 people have removed over 5.9 million pieces of litter over three decades.  That is dedication and impressive,” she added. 

In 2016, nearly 4,000 volunteers collected, tallied and removed over 218,807 pieces of debris from New Jersey’s shoreline during Clean Ocean Action’s 31st Annual Beach Sweeps.  The majority of the debris removed was disposable plastics.  Plastic, including foam, represents 81.13% of the total waste found.  The evidence is clear: disposable plastic items continue to litter beaches, threaten marine life, and impact water quality.

“The Annual Report is always full of surprises,” said Kari Martin, long-time Beach Captain, former Statewide Coordinator and current COA Board Member.  “The ‘Roster of the Ridiculous’ included a $10 bill, full upper dentures, 2 fake decorated Christmas trees, and a cell phone. While some of these items can make you smile, litter is a serious threat to marine life.  The legacy of data we have collected is a call to action to reduce sources,” she added.

The Beach Sweeps is a celebrated community event, with people participating at
58 municipalities and parks in New Jersey in 2016.  84 volunteer Beach Captains organized, led and instructed volunteers at these sites.  According to the data cards, 111 schools (preschool to college), 56 Boy and Girl Scout troops, 72 organizations, and 48 businesses were represented this year.  These Ocean Wavemakers contributed time, effort, resources, donations, and funds to help make the Beach Sweeps a success.

Call to Action: COA invites citizens and organizations to participate in the 32nd Annual Spring Beach Sweeps on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at over 60 sites along the Jersey Shore.   The link to a complete list of site locations and details can be found on the homepage at  Volunteers should bring gloves, dress for the weather, apply sunscreen, and wear closed-toed, hard-soled shoes.