Clean Ocean Action


Waves of thanks, Beach Sweeps Volunteers!

Over 4,000 volunteers participated in COA's 36th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps on Saturday, October 23 at 70 locations statewide. Each piece of debris that was combed from the sand, categorized, and diligently counted by volunteer citizen scientists contributes to a legacy of information that Clean Ocean Action uses to advance policies and initiatives that reduce litter at the source.

Save the date for the next Beach Sweeps on Saturday, April 9, 2022!

The data from the 2021 Beach Sweeps will be compiled and published in an annual report, to be released in April 2022. View past years' Beach Sweeps Annual Reports to learn more about marine debris and nonpoint source pollution.

Questions about the Beach Sweeps? Find answers on the Beach Sweeps FAQ page.

Need your Beach Sweeps volunteer hours certified?

Step 1: Download the blank "Beach Sweeps Volunteer Hours" letter.

Step 2: Print the letter and bring it with you to the Beach Sweeps.

Step 3: When finished Sweeping, fill out the letter and bring it to the Beach Captain to have it signed.

"35 Years of Hands In the Sand and Feet on the Beach"

COA's 2020 Beach Sweeps Report highlights the amazing impact of the Beach Sweeps program over 35 years, as well as the data collected during the Fall 2020 Beach Sweeps.


View the 2020 Beach Sweeps Report

Click here to read the Press Release.

Click here to watch the press conference on Facebook Live.

Click here to view the slides presented at the press conference.



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 10,000 volunteers in 2018.  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. Children age 12 and under must be supervised by an adult. Registration is required. Register here!


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, click here to register to participate!Registration is required.
  • The event runs from 9:00 am - 12:30 pm. Volunteers can select a check-in time of either 9:00 am or 10:00 am. Event is rain or shine.
  • Bring a face covering, gloves and a trash bucket (this helps to reduce the number of plastic bags used).
  • 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.

If you have any questions about the Beach Sweeps please contact: 

Clean Ocean Action



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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