Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, April 2005

Participate in the Legacy of Clean-ups - April 23

     This year, Clean Ocean Action (COA) celebrates the 20th Anniversary of our Beach Sweeps and Waterway Cleanup Program (Sweeps).  In 1985, the first group of volunteers gathered at Sandy Hook to clean up the beach.  They were tired of garbage and medical waste wash-ups that spewed syringes, condoms, sewage cakes, and an assortment of other debris onto New Jersey’s beaches.  Seventy-five people, including volunteers, coalition members, and staff, met at Sandy Hook that day, brought together by their desire to make a difference.

     Volunteers were given different colored t-shirts.  Each color designated a type of litter the volunteer was assigned to collect – plastic, glass, metal, wood, and foam plastic.  This method of color-coding was the first that COA utilized to collect data about the Sweeps.  Today, the method of data collection is quite different. Volunteers carry a 100-item data card and pencil with them, carefully recording each item collected from the beach.  The data is compiled into an annual report, which serves as a legacy for the event and as evidence to lawmakers to enact and enforce anti-pollution laws.

     The type of debris collected from New Jersey’s beaches during the Sweeps has evolved over its twenty-year history.  For example, in 1985, glass bottles were a common item collected. Glass was used more frequently for soda and other beverage bottles than it is presently.  Today, glass bottles are found in lesser amounts, however, the volume of plastic soda and water bottles collected has skyrocketed.

     Since 1985, the Beach Sweeps have grown to become one of the largest volunteer cleanup events in the United States.  In 2004, 6,647 volunteers cleaned up beaches in 148 locations in NJ during the Spring and Fall Sweeps.  The growth of the Sweeps is a testament to its popularity and success.  Today, hundreds of volunteer groups and thousands of people lend a hand in cleaning up beaches in their communities.

     The Sweeps has benefited from tremendous support from corporations and businesses over the years.  This spring, Wakefern Foods Corporation, which includes ShopRite stores, celebrates 10 years of generous Sweeps support.  In addition to ShopRite, the Lead Sponsors for the upcoming Sweeps are Verizon, and West Marine.  The Co-sponsors include Comcast, Conectiv, Jersey Central Power and Light Co., New Jersey American Water Co., and Starbucks Coffee Company.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available; for information on sponsorship or organizing a corporate cleanup, please contact Jennifer Smiga at (732) 872-0111.

     COA invites you to join us for the Spring Beach Sweeps on April 23rd, from 9am to 12:30pm.  Groups of 15 or more volunteers are asked to pre-register online or by calling COA.  Volunteers should bring gloves and dress for the weather (event is rain/shine).


     Watch for COA’s Tony Totah in a Beach Sweeps segment in April on Comcast’s “Newsmakers” series, which airs on CNN Headline News five minutes before every hour. 


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

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