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Sep 12, 2022

Gather a Team for Clean Ocean Action’s Fall Beach Sweeps

By Lori Draz

Donovan Catholic High School surf team cleans the beach at Second Avenue in Seaside Park.

Score a big win for the environment and get a team together for Beach Sweeps: The New Sport in Ocean Protection! It was a busy summer of crowded beaches, picnics and parties, even outdoor festivals and events held near and far from the ocean – all a lot of fun, but many left behind trash that can make a mess of our beaches and harm wildlife. Fall’s arrival is a perfect time to get out and do something about it. It’s time for Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) Fall Beach Sweeps, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 am to 12:30 pm at 70 sites along the Jersey Shore. 

Twice each year, thousands of volunteers of all ages spend a morning removing and categorizing litter in Clean Ocean Action’s Beach Sweeps. Since launching the region’s first beach cleanup program in 1985, 157,863 volunteers removed 7,938,058 million pieces of refuse from New Jersey’s beaches and waterways. The Beach Sweeps give people a way to protect marine life, collect essential data that can be used to enact policies to reduce sources and become self-aware about pollution issues.  

Now your team can be a part of it! Anyone can put a team together to participate. There’s room for everyone. You can make a competition of it, or simply spend a single morning enjoying the company of your friends as you do something positive for the planet. 

Waste, trash and litter travel into our waterways from many sources. It often starts on land as litter is either windblown or carried by storm water, which ultimately flows into the sea and washes onto beaches. Much of it can trap animals or be mistaken for food, causing injury and death. 

Over the years, Beach Sweeps data have resulted in state and federal litter-reduction laws. In 2021, 34,801 plastic straws/stirrers, 9,305 plastic shopping bags and 1,057 foam plastic food containers were collected by Beach Sweeps volunteers. These items are now limited or banned by New Jersey state law, thanks to Clean Ocean Action and many organizations across the state that worked to get the Single-Use Waste Reduction Law enacted.

Widely regarded as the strongest single-use waste reduction measure in the nation, the law bans plastic and paper carryout bags and prohibits grocery stores more than 2,500 square feet from providing single-use paper carryout bags to customers; limits plastic straws and prohibits all food service establishments from providing single-use plastic straws unless the customer requests one; and bans foam plastic (polystyrene) containers for all businesses that sell and provide food products.

Are you ready to get your sports team, school or group involved? Sign up the team or group to participate in Clean Ocean Action’s Beach Sweeps! Registration for groups and individuals is open. All volunteers must pre-register. For registration and site information as well as tips for participating, visit CleanOceanAction.org.