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

Dec 23, 2020

Thousands Volunteer to Clean Local Beaches and Waterways

By Lori Draz

Holmdel High School Environmental Club at Bayshore Waterfront

October was a busy month for Clean Ocean Action (COA). The group held two successful events that raised awareness for their work of protecting the ocean and waterways.

On Oct. 24, more than 4,000 volunteers at more than 60 New Jersey beaches and waterways came together for New jersey’s largest volunteer event, the 35th annual Fall Beach Sweeps. This enthusiastic crowd of old and young, puppies and even a pet pig spent the morning collecting and counting harmful debris gathered from shorelines from Bergen to Cape May counties.

The data from this event will be publicized in the 2020 annual Beach Sweeps Report which will be released in April 2021, prior to the 36th annual Spring Beach Sweep. The data collected from this one-day event is a tremendous source of information to improve public awareness, change wasteful habits, enforce litter laws and improve policies to reduce sources of marine debris. To see the 2019 Annual Report, visit

Laura, Rosemary and Lisa Bagwell

Father-daughter duo filling out the new data card at Sea Bright

This year, in light of COVID-19, COA added personal protection equipment (PPE) to the Fall 2020 Data Card. Reusable masks, like all debris, will likely end up in the ocean if it is not removed.

“We are awed by the turnout of over 4,000 volunteers and we are than ever, incredibly grateful for our volunteer beach captains, the assistance of each participating town and the support of all of our sponsors,” stated Watershed Program Coordinator Alison Jones.

Some of those volunteers included students from Holmdel High School Environmental Club who collected trash at the Bayshore Waterfront Park Beach Sweeps.

Executive Director Cindy Zipf added, “It is a fantastic day for the ocean. Everyone complied with safety rules and all removed thousands of items, mostly plastic from the beach. The data they collected will help us continue to make progress to reduce marine debris.”

In Sandy Hook, 274 volunteers collected thousands of items. The top five items were:

  1. 4,847 Plastic pieces
  2. 4,246 Plastic caps/lids
  3. 1,645 Plastic straws/stirrers
  4. 1,294 Food/candy wrappers
  5. 923 Plastic cap rings

In addition, 114 PPE items (face masks and other COVID-related debris) were collected at Sandy Hook.

Always a favorite category, Beach Sweeps volunteers note any out-of-the-ordinary finds for the Roster of the Ridiculous. Some of those items included a car door, flash drive, pillow, rain boots, a perfume bottle, sequins, a dreidel, a toy car, a ladder and “Examined by US Customs and Border Patrol” luggage tape.

COA sends waves of thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers who came together to make a difference for a cleaner ocean to be enjoyed by generations to come.