Locals Collect Debris At The Jersey Shore

Cleaning crews hit Allen Road, Amherst Drive, and Butler Boulevard. (Photo courtesy Berkeley Shores)

  JERSEY SHORE – Over 3,500 volunteers at 76 sites collected thousands of harmful items across Jersey Shore’s beaches.

  Clean Ocean Action (COA) held their 37th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps with volunteers from Bergen all the way to Cape May sharing the same purpose to gather litter to keep our beaches clean.

  The goal of the Beach Sweeps is to make beaches safer for marine life and more enjoyable for people. In addition, the event collects data so we can learn how to change wasteful habits, enforce litter laws, improve policies and spread awareness to the public.

  “It is a fantastic day for the ocean. The amazing turnout for the Fall Sweeps is testament to the love and commitment people have for a clean ocean! Many brought buckets 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,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action.

Photo courtesy Berkeley Shores

  Over the years, data collected from these beach sweeps suggests trends. For nearly 40 years, single-use plastic items are consistently on the rise. It continues to be the number one item found at these collections.

  Although COA has not tallied this year’s exact data, they hope to see a decrease in the number of items now banned due to the law that went into effect on May 4. The law bans plastic bags, several types of foam food containers, as well as reducing access to plastic straws.

  “The data collected by the thousands of dedicated volunteers up and down the coast is one part of the amazing story of the Beach Sweeps. When the data is put to work in the form of advocacy for better policies and laws to reduce pollution sources, it makes the Beach Sweeps a legacy of action that benefits communities, wildlife, the economy, and the environment,” said Kari Martin, Advocacy Campaign Manager, Clean Ocean Action. “The data has turned hours of hard work removing litter from our shorelines into meaningful and impactful state and federal laws, as well as municipal ordinances. That is a sweeping success.”

Photo courtesy Berkeley Shores

  In Ocean County Brick Girl Scouts showed up in support of Beach Sweeps in Brick Township sites, and Junior Beach Captain Katie with her sister Emmy helped collect debris at the Island Beach State Park Beach Sweeps. Additionally, students from Somerset County school participated in Point Pleasant Beach Sweeps while learning about different types of pollution from data cards. The Berkeley Shores Homeowners Association picked up garbage at beaches like the one on the end of Allen Road, and also some of the shore roads.

  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 included: a knife handle, happy meal toy, car muffler, menstrual cup, boat seat, plastic grapes, HDMI cable, and a rearview mirror.

Photo courtesy Berkeley Shores

  At Sandy Hook, 327 volunteers collected the following top five items:

  • 5,173 plastic bottle caps/lids
  • 4,086 plastic pieces
  • 3,838 plastic food and candy wrappers
  • 1,744 plastic straws/stirrers
  • 1,004 foam pieces

  Clean Ocean Action is a leading national and regional voice working to protect waterways using science, law, research, education and citizen action. Their annual Beach Sweeps are held every April and October and are the state’s largest volunteer driven, citizen science and environmental event.