The coastal community of Belmar, New Jersey, is one of more than 60 locations where volunteers will join forces for the 36th annual Clean Ocean Action Spring Beach Sweeps on Saturday, April 17, 2021.
In addition to the two sites in Belmar (3rd Avenue and 16th Avenue beaches), nearby Jersey Shore towns involved in the cleanup effort include Asbury Park, Avon-by-the-Sea, Bradley Beach, Manasquan, Ocean Grove, Sea Girt, and Spring Lake. The event takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at all beach sweep sites statewide.
Beach Sweeps COVID-19 Guidelines
This family-friendly event is a great way to enjoy time outdoors while also doing something good to help sea life and the environment. The Clean Ocean Action(COA) has implemented COVID-19 guidelines for the shoreline cleanup to ensure a safe experience for everyone involved.
Volunteers may participate as individuals or in small groups of up to three people. All volunteers must pre-register separately for the event and sign an electronic waiver on the Clean Ocean Action website. You will be asked to show your confirmation email upon your arrival at the beach cleanup site. Those who have not pre-registered will need to register and sign the waiver via their smartphone the day of the event.
Face coverings are required for all participants. Bring gloves and wear shoes or boots that are sturdy enough for walking in the sand. Refreshments will not be provided, so bring your own snacks and water. The Clean Ocean Action is also encouraging volunteers to bring their own buckets for trash collection to minimize the use of plastic bags. RELATED: Fresh Catch With The Jersey Shore Lobster Brothers
To facilitate social distancing, the Clean Ocean Action has introduced staggered arrival times for the 2021 Beach Sweeps. You may choose an arrival time of either 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. when completing your online registration. Read the full list of Clean Ocean Action COVID-19 guidelines for this event.
During previous Beach Sweeps in Belmar, volunteers have included students and scout troops from Jackson, Freehold, Howell, and Tinton Falls, New Jersey — and even a busload of high schoolers from Pennsbury School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Making A Difference
According to the Clean Ocean Action, over 147,000 volunteers have eliminated nearly 7.5 million pieces of trash from New Jersey coastlines and waterways since the inception of this pollution-prevention program in 1985.
Not surprisingly, personal protective equipment (PPE), such as used face coverings and disposable gloves, was a new type of beach litter collected during the beach cleanup in fall 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the COA’s fall 2020 cleanup event, 3,746 volunteers joined the effort along the Jersey coast. They collected and disposed of nearly 186,000 total items across all cleanup sites. (The spring 2020 COA Beach Sweeps were canceled due to the pandemic.)
The top 12 pollutants (COA's "dirty dozen") found in fall 2020 were:
Plastic pieces, 32,190 pieces
Plastic caps and lids, 21,741 pieces
Food bags and candy wrappers, 17,555 pieces
Cigarette filters, 15,948 pieces
Plastic straws and stirrers, 10,601 pieces
Foam pieces, 9,263 pieces
Plastic beverage bottles, 5,812 pieces
Paper pieces, 4,986
Broken glass, 4,662
Cigar tips, 4,585
Lumber pieces, 3,380
Metal drink cans, 3,096
Of note, in 2020, the COA reported a decrease in cigar tips and plastic straws and stirrers. However, increases were seen in the number of cigarette filters and plastic beverage bottles that were collected. First-time finds on the dirty dozen list include paper pieces and metal beverage cans. Read more findings in the COA's 2020 Beach Sweeps annual report.
In an effort to prevent ocean pollution, Belmar enacted a ban on single-use plastic bags, which took effect May 1, 2019. Belmar was also first shore town to prohibit smoking on the beach, which is now banned on every beach in New Jersey. RELATED: Protecting Endangered Coastal Birds On Belmar Beach
Clean Ocean Action
Story and photos © copyright by Christine Cardellino, owner of www.vacationinbelmar.com and publisher of the award-winning Belmar Beachcomber Blog, a travel and tourism guide for the Belmar region of the Jersey Shore. Do not copy any content (including images) without our permission. All rights reserved.
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