SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ – Everyone loves a clean beach, except for some reason; when people visit our Jersey Shore beaches, they leave tons of trash annually behind them. While each day beach communities rake and clean their beaches, a lot of debris is overlooked.

That’s why each year, Clean Ocean Action performs beach sweeps to pick up all the trash left behind by beachgoers and missed during seasonal municipal cleanups.

Clean Ocean Action has performed beach sweeps since 1985 and has removed nearly 8,000,000 pieces of debris from New Jersey’s beaches.

In 2021, after being canceled due to COVID-19, Clean Ocean Action beach sweeps included 10,003 volunteers who removed 513,605 items in just 6 hours.

Here are the top 10 trash items discarded on New Jersey beaches in 2021

  1. Plastic caps and lids – You might think burying your Poland Springs bottle cap under a few inches of sand makes it disappear forever, but it remains, and as tides come in and out, they can either get swept into the ocean or rise to the top again as unsightly garbage. Nearly 70,000 plastic lids and caps were strewn across the beaches.
  2. Plastic pieces – Broken pieces of plastic, whether from chairs, coolers, packaging, etc, are freely discarded on the beach. 67,000 plastic pieces were found this year.
  3. Food and candy wrappers – Letting that ice cream cone wrapper sail away in the wind eventually makes it somebody else’s problem. 58,000 discarded wrappers were found during the 2021 sweep.
  4. Straws and stirrers – Of course it’s easy to throw your straw and coffee stirrer in the sand when you’re done, but thanks to people like you, 34,800 of them were found on our beaches.
  5. Cigarette Filters – Cigarette smokers typically see no harm in tossing their butts wherever they may be, but more so on the beach when they can be buried under an inch or two of sand. Beach sweepers found 32,000 discarded cigarette filters across New Jersey’s beaches.
  6. Foam Pieces – Foam is in the coolers you bring to the beach, boogie boards, cups and food takeout containers. 26,800 pieces of foam were found during the sweep.
  7. Other plastics – Miscellaneous plastics accounted for 13,500 pieces of garbage removed from the beaches.
  8. Paper – Paper makes up a large portion of garbage at the beach, including discarded flyers, newspapers, magazines, and restaurant menus. 11,700 pieces of paper were found.
  9. Plastic bottles – More than 11,000 discarded plastic bottles were found during the beach sweeps.
  10. Cigar Tips – There’s nothing like enjoying a day at the beach with a nice cigar, listening to the waves crash as the sun beats down, but when you’re done, you should discard the tip into the trash and not leave it behind. 11,300 cigar tips were found.