Clean Ocean Action’s annual Beach Sweeps take place – rain or shine – at 80 different beaches and waterways every October, as well as every April, near Earth Day. This year, the environmental organization is asking volunteers to join the autumn cleanup event in their community from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 22.
On Long Beach Island, where COA partners with Alliance for a Living Ocean, volunteers can meet ALO members outside Wally’s Restaurant, at 712 Long Beach Blvd. in Surf City, to take part in the effort to sweep the beaches of trash and log what is found. As the nonprofit explains, the debris data “is presented in annual reports and used to advance federal, state and local programs to reduce litter.”
Participants are advised to wear sunscreen and comfortable, sturdy shoes and to dress according to the weather conditions. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring their own bucket for trash collection, as this helps to reduce the number of plastic bags used. All other materials will be provided.
COA launched the region’s first Beach Sweeps in 1985 to rid beaches of unsightly and harmful trash, and the event is now one of the longest-running cleanups of its kind.
“This is a great way for volunteers, small and tall, to give back to the ocean and beaches, which give us such joy, beauty and economic vitality,” said COA Executive Director Cindy Zipf.
Each Beach Sweeps provides a snapshot of what is found on nearly every beach, from Perth Amboy to Cape May and beyond, the organization noted.
“Collecting data is key to the Beach Sweeps program. This essential task can be tedious and time-consuming, and so their efforts are a testament to the volunteers’ ocean devotion,” COA stated. “The data is compiled into annual reports that have been used for over two decades as evidence of the need for strong policies and behavior changes to reduce litter and wasteful practices.”
“Thanks to the thousands of volunteers that work so hard,” COA Advocacy Campaign Manager Kari Martin noted, “we have the evidence to convince our elected officials to pass and enforce the laws we need to reduce this serious threat to the environment and public health.”
To learn more about Beach Sweeps or to register for the Oct. 22 event, visit cleanoceanaction.org. —J.K.-H.