Volunteers removed 332,003 pieces of debris from N.J. beaches in 2015, organization says

    Beach Sweeps volunteers in South Seaside Park in 2011. (Photo: Dominick Solazzo)

    Beach Sweeps volunteers in South Seaside Park in 2011. (Photo: Dominick Solazzo)

    What do a vacuum cleaner, a rubber brain, and a kitchen sink all have in common?

    They’re just three out of 332,003 pieces of debris removed from New Jersey beach last year by volunteer participants in Clean Ocean Action’s biannual “Beach Sweeps,” the state’s largest volunteer-drive environmental cleanup at over 70 shoreline locations.

    According to the Sandy Hook-based organization’s 2015 Beach Sweeps annual report, 6,375 volunteers collected, tallied, and removed debris, with disposable plastic representing 70.78% of the total waste found.

    “Of the 260,624 plastic items collected, 70.6% were single use,” said Lauren Brajer, Clean Ocean Action Communications and Program Coordinator. “This means a plastic item intended for one-time use makes up the vast majority of the largest category of beach litter.”

    In addition to plastic, other commonly found items in the report’s “Dirty Dozen” include cigarette filters, lumber, glass, paper.

    Some of the item in the report’s “Roster of the Ridiculous” include a goose head stuffed animal, an industrial fan, rat traps, a mini-keg, and birth control pills.

    “Over the last 30 years of Beach Sweeps, we have seen the types of debris change in quantity and quality, but two things remain the same. First, litter, especially plastic, is harmful and even lethal to marine life and it is on the rise. Second, you can always count on the small and the tall to volunteer to help clean up beaches. We call that Jersey Pride,” said Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action Executive Director.

    More than 111,830 volunteers have removed over 5.7 million pieces of litter over three decades, she added.

    The next beach sweep is on Saturday, April 30. Click here for more info. 

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