SANDY HOOK, NJ – Over 4,000 volunteers gathered today, October 23, 2021 from 9:00am – 12:30pm at 70 New Jersey beaches and waterways to clean harmful debris at Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 36th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps. Enthusiastic volunteers spent the day collecting and tabulating debris that they removed from shorelines from Bergen to Cape May Counties. The data produced from this event is combined with the data from the Spring Beach Sweeps and publicized in an annual report that provides a deeper exploration into litter on the Jersey Shore. The 2021 Annual Beach Sweeps Report will be released in April 2022, prior to the 37th Annual Spring Beach Sweeps. To view data presented in the 2020 Annual Report, visit CleanOceanAction.org.
Beach Sweeps help to reduce litter in the marine environment, where it is harmful and often lethal to wildlife. The data from the Beach Sweeps turns a one-day event into a legacy of information to improve public awareness, change wasteful habits, enforce litter laws and improve policies to reduce sources of marine debris. Marine debris is a human caused, human solved issue.
“The hard work and effort of the volunteers goes beyond leaving behind a cleaner beach. Volunteers at the Beach Sweeps become citizen scientists, documenting a snap-shot of the types and amounts of litter found on the Jersey Shore. By recording the data, they are helping us work toward a future where beach cleanups are not needed because litter is prevented at the source” stated Alison Jones, Watershed Program Coordinator, Clean Ocean Action.
“The Beach Sweeps is an empowering event. It’s not only a wake-up call to the small and the tall about the problem of marine debris, but provides them a way to make a difference by improving the ocean and beaches they enjoy so much. The data they collect is most important. Thanks to volunteers carefully recording what they collect over the years we know that over 7.4 million pieces of trash has been removed and these facts are being used by local, state, and federal officials to reduce sources of marine debris such as reducing single use plastics,“ said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action.
Some filled garbage bags in Spring Lake
Preliminary results from Sandy Hook collected by over 470 volunteers, including the top five items:
(1) – 6,593 bottle caps/lids
(2) – 6,488 food and candy wrappers/bags
(3) – 5,791 plastic pieces
(4) – 3,461 plastic straws/stirrers
(5) – 1,421 foam pieces
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Throughout Beach Sweeps, volunteers are encouraged to note any out-of-the-ordinary finds. COA labels these finds as “The Roster of the Ridiculous”. Some of the items catalogued today included: a life jacket, doll head, Barbie shoe, test tube, printer ink, panty, religious plate, Legos, burnt straws, Christmas decorations, compressed car, ear plug, and a rabies vaccination dog tag from Eastchester, NY
“50 MAST students, including myself, are honored to be here today to help Clean Ocean Action ensure the Fall Beach Sweeps run smoothly. I’d like to thank all the volunteers dedicating their time to help clean up the beaches and collect data. The data helps students to research the effects of pollution on our local waterways and is vital for Clean Ocean Action to create policies and laws that protect our oceans” said Colin Truett, Beach Sweeps Coordinator, High School Student, Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST).
COA’s Beach Captains are there to direct the hub of volunteers and individual participants at each site. These Captains lead the cleanup effort and are an indispensable part to which we owe the overall success of the program.
“Being a scuba diver has given me a unique connection to the underwater world and its vulnerable habitat and marine life. I wanted to get involved as a beach captain because I wanted to start making a difference in protecting the ocean that I’ve grown to appreciate and love. As citizens of planet earth, we all need to hold responsibility for our actions which includes cleaning up the trash we create that pollutes the environment. These Beach Sweeps are of vital importance for people to come together as a society, despite where the trash came from, and take action for the common goal of maintaining a clean, inhabitable planet,” said Stephanie Huynh, Beach Captain at Sea Bright BeachWalk Hotel
“I volunteer at the Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps because I live on the beach in Sea Bright. I take a walk on the beach every day, and I can see how much trash there is on the beach. I see birds and other animals tangled up in garbage and how it affects the sea life. I can see the difference between when the ocean is clean, and when it’s not.” Liz Lawrence, Beach Captain, with Junior Beach Captains Katie and Sofia Barreiro, at the Anchorage site in Sea Bright, NJ]
“SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch is proud to be a beach captain and county sponsor because we believe in COA’s mission of cleaning up our waterways. We particularly enjoy getting our team members and children involved in the stewardship of our environment.” John Majeski, pictured above, SERVPRO of Eatontown/Long Branch, Beach Captain at Madison Ave, Long Branch with his family
“The ocean is so important to the health of the planet and a source of joy and peace for me and my family.” Emily Hackett, COA staff 2007-2012, volunteer 2013-present. Beach Captain at Popomora Point in Highlands. “I want to volunteer so I can have an impact on my community and help clean the beaches. By doing so, less waste will make it into the ocean and less waste will kill sea creatures.” Bella Valenzano, age 15, Junior Beach Captain
While Hamlette the mini pig was busy cleaning the beach, Beach Captains Crystal DeCaro and Ryan Carr said “We look forward to the beach sweeps every year, and it is our honor to help restore our shore. Waves of thOINKS!” in Ortley Beach, NJ.
Waves of thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers, from the small to the tall, who participated in today’s Beach Sweeps! Together we can all make a difference for a cleaner ocean to be enjoyed by generations to come simply by picking up litter whenever and wherever we see it. For example, a piece of debris found on a central or northern New Jersey street can travel downstream and eventually end-up in the ocean.
With gratitude, Clean Ocean Action thanks: Willie’s Superbrew for their 2021 Beach Sweeps Statewide Sponsorships. The Fall Beach Sweeps are made possible by support from many generous supporters.
“We’re so excited to expand our Superbeach Cleanup efforts to New Jersey and work with Clean Ocean Action. Willie’s was born on the beach, so it’s our responsibility to protect them and build a cleaner, more sustainable world,” said Nico Enriquez, CEO, Willie’s Superbrew Hard Seltzer.
2021 County Sponsors: Comcast NBC Universal, Hackensack Meridian Health, Montecalvo & Bayshore Family of Companies, Servpro of Eatontown/Long Branch & Servpro of Hackensack/Little Ferry, ShopRite, Target.
2021 Site Sponsors: American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey, Appalachian Mountain Club New York – North Jersey Chapter, Atlantic City Electric, Baine Contracting, Cohen Water Initiative, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and Aquarium, Manasquan Bank, OceanFirst Foundation, Slalom, Vantage Apparel, 1st Constitution Bank
2021 Supporting Businesses: Ricoh USA
Additional support provided by Enterprise Holdings Foundation.
“Enterprise has been a long-time supporter of Clean Ocean Action and the Annual Beach Sweeps. Here at Enterprise, we know how fortunate we are to live and work in the communities that do so much for our business, so it is an honor and a privilege to give back to an organization that does so much for our local neighborhoods.” – Enterprise Holdings
Clean Ocean Action’s mission is to improve the degraded water quality of the marine waters off the New Jersey/New York coast. Clean Ocean Action will identify the sources of pollution and mount an attack on each by using research, public education and citizen action to convince public officials to enact and enforce measures which will clean up and protect the Atlantic Ocean.