Thousands of Volunteers Remove Garbage from NJ Beaches

Thirty-fourth annual fall cleanup involved more than 6,000 volunteers, 60 locations and lots of debris
Credit: Clean Ocean Action
Volunteers at Sandy Hook for Clean Ocean Action’s Spring Beach Sweep in April 2019

Thousands of volunteers swept beaches from Bergen County to Cape May County Saturday as part of a New Jersey-based organization’s annual program.

Clean Ocean Action, a regional coalition based in Sandy Hook that fights for clean water off the New Jersey and New York coastlines, hosted its 34th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps at over 60 sites.

Volunteers scoured tidal waterways for debris, documenting the quantity and types of garbage found. The results will be analyzed and published in an annual report, which will help to reduce sources of pollution, according to a press release.

On Sandy Hook alone, over 700 “sweepers” found 10,033 plastic pieces, 6,569 plastic caps/lids, 4,633 food/candy wrappers, 3,824 plastic straws/stirrers, and 1,894 foam pieces.

Participants also found a bike helmet, bra strap, butter container, car seat, dental retainer, hard hat, railroad tie, sneaker, snowman doll, soy sauce packets, squid toy, swim goggles, tire, and a Wonder Woman figurine.

“The Beach Sweeps is an empowering event. It’s not only a wake-up call to the small and the tall about the plastic plague in the ocean, but provides them a way to make a difference by improving the ocean and beaches they enjoy so much,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. “The data they collect is essential. Over the years it has been used to reduce sources of debris and single use plastics through local, state, and federal actions.”

More than 133,390 volunteers have removed nearly 7 million pieces of litter over more than three decades.