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Volunteers removed nearly 500,000 pieces of debris from N.J. beaches in 2019

Volunteers at Sandy Hook for Clean Ocean Action's Spring Beach Sweep in April 2019. (Courtesy of Clean Ocean Action)

Volunteers at Sandy Hook for Clean Ocean Action's Spring Beach Sweep in April 2019. (Courtesy of Clean Ocean Action)

Who do plastic vampire teeth, a jar full of pickles, a $6,000 diamond engagement ring, and a frying pan all have in common?

They’re just four out of nearly 500,000 pieces of debris removed from New Jersey beaches last year by volunteer participants in Clean Ocean Action’s biannual “Beach Sweeps,” the state’s largest volunteer-drive environmental cleanup at over 60 shoreline locations.

According to the Sandy Hook-based organization’s Beach Sweeps annual report, 10,744 volunteers collected, tallied, and removed debris, with disposable plastic once again representing the majority of the total waste found in 2019 (83%).

Just about everything — including the kitchen sink — was found.

Additional unusual findings including a glass trophy, a pasta strainer, a car bumper and a retainer.

Clean Ocean Action reported a nearly 15% decline in the number of plastic beverage bottles, a 23% increase in food and candy wrappers, a 26% increase in cigarette filters and a nearly 39% increase in foam food containers.

More than 144,000 volunteers have removed more than seven million pieces of litter over more than three decades.

“The greatest success of the Beach Sweeps are the take-home lessons: citizens taking responsibility for the environment, making a difference, teamwork, and commitment,” the organization said in a news release.

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