Since 1985, over 123,200 volunteers have participated and removed
over 6.2 million pieces of debris from New Jersey’s beaches and waterways.
About the Beach Sweeps
In 1985, COA launched the region’s first Beach Sweeps program to rid beaches of unsightly and harmful debris. COA’s Beach Sweeps is one of the longest running cleanups of its kind in the world. The program has grown from 75 people at one site in 1985, to over 7,000 volunteers in 2017. Volunteers gather from Raritan to Delaware Bays and along the ocean to clean beaches and waterways, as well as underwater sites. They join as groups (community, school, business, and organization), families, or individuals. Participants collect and record valuable data about debris, which is presented in annual reports and used to advance federal, state, and local programs to reduce litter.
Fish, whales, birds, and other animals often mistake litter for food. As a result, animals get entangled in or ingest items, such as plastic bags, cigarette filters, and fishing line, with deadly results. Cigarette filters mimic fish and have been found in the stomachs of birds and larger fish, blocking and affecting their digestion. Also, the filters are made of plastic fibers and trap carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals that are introduced into animals’ bloodstreams.
Moreover, plastic litter takes a few years to several hundred years to break down, thereby threatening wildlife for decades. Litter in waterways can also foul boat motors and propellers, resulting in costly repairs. Finally, littered beaches can ruin a day at the beach. Garbage slicks and wash-ups close beaches to swimming and are detrimental to tourism and the coastal economy.
Who should participate in Beach Sweeps?
Volunteers of all ages. Both walk-ons and registered volunteers are welcome. Groups of 10 or more are encouraged to pre-register by completing the online form, or by calling COA’s Sandy Hook office at 732-872-0111.
How to get involved in Beach Sweeps:
- To participate in the Beach Sweeps first review the list of Beach Sweeps sites.
- Once you’ve selected a site, register to participate! Registration for the Beach Sweeps is encouraged, but not required.
- Check-in starts at 9:00 am. Event is rain or shine.
- Bring Gloves. Wear sunscreen and hard-soled shoes. Dress for the weather. Stay off dunes and respect wildlife.
- Volunteers can click here to learn more about becoming a Beach Captain.
- Volunteers age 15-18 can click here to learn more about becoming a Junior Beach Captain.
If you have any questions about the Beach Sweeps please contact:
Clean Ocean Action