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The Journal magazines are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jun 09, 2021

Thousands Participate in COA’s 36th Annual Spring Beach Sweeps

By: Lori Draz

More than 5,500 defenders of the ocean grabbed their buckets and gloves on April 17 to spend the morning removing harmful trash and debris from the shoreline at Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 36th annual Spring Beach Sweeps. These volunteers came in all ages; some came as families, and some came for the first time to 67 sites Bergen to Cape May Counties. They gathered all sorts of items that could potentially injure marine life. The collected materials are tallied,and this all-important data helps COA and others in their work to reduce the sources of marine debris, especially plastics.
Each Beach Sweep provides a snapshot of what is found on nearly every beach from Perth Amboy to Cape May and beyond. Over the years, this data suggests trends. Since 1984, one trend is unequivocal: single-use plastic items are on the rise. This trend is reflected in the new 2021 data card, which includes more plastic items than ever.
“The 2021 data shows most items are plastics, including many newly added debris items, the ‘Ocean Offenders’: e-cigarette cartridges/caps/pens, cotton swab sticks, dental floss picks, disposable wipes, face masks and disposable gloves,” said Alison Jones, Watershed Program coordinator for Clean Ocean Action. Preliminary results from Sandy Hook collected by 175 volunteers, including the top five items:
4,254 food/candy wrappers/bags; 3,797 plastic pieces; 3,777 plastic bottle caps/lids;1,425 plastic straws/stirrers and 1,019 foam pieces. They also found 63 disposable face masks, eight reusable face masks, 16 disposable gloves and 27 disposable wipes.
Volunteers also make special notes of the more out-of-the-ordinary finds which the COAcalls “The Roster of the Ridiculous.” Some items included traffic cones, beverage can pull tabs, a toilet brush, dentures, cassette tapes, a plastic spider ring, mini-fridge and a GI Joe doll.
For more than 35 years, Clean Ocean Action has organized grassroots volunteer Beach Sweeps across the state. They are also grateful to the many companies who have supported the events over the years.
“Clean Ocean Action’s dedication to research, education and action makes them a valuable partner in working to make a positive impact in the communities where our Comcast employees live and work. We’re proud to support COA’s annual Beach Sweeps efforts and share their commitment to environmental responsibility,” stated Kimberly Smith, director of Community Impact for Comcast.
Though the Beach Sweeps are over until fall 2021, beach season is just starting. You are reminded to always do your part for a cleaner ocean to be enjoyed by generations. Pick up litter whenever and wherever you see it. To learn more, visit