Beach Sweeps draws community support

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Community members of all ages came out to River Avenue Beach and Maxson Avenue Beach in support of Clean Ocean Action's 36th Annual Spring Beach Sweeps April 17. [KAYLA MARSH/THE OCEAN STAR]

POINT PLEASANT — Community members of all ages strapped on their gloves, grabbed their buckets and headed to the local beachfront to help find, remove, and tabulate harmful debris as part of Clean Ocean Action’s 36th Annual Spring Beach Sweeps Saturday.

Community members traversed River Avenue and Maxson Avenue beaches April 17, collecting a number of plastic, personal protective equipment, balloon and rubber items, metal, paper, cloth, wood, glass and other debris.

“It was a great turnout and the weather was cooperative,” Beach Captain Marianne Grant told The Ocean Star. “It was very eye opening for some first time volunteers. They couldn’t get over the amount of small pieces of plastic.

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“Using the buckets, which we have been doing since the beginning, is a great way to collect garbage/recyclables without using plastic bags. Everything was counted and placed in the town garbage/recycling cans at the beach. It makes such a difference.”

Clean Ocean Action launched the first beach sweeps program in 1985 in an effort to rid beaches and waterways of unsightly and harmful debris. The program has grown from 75 people at one site to thousands of volunteers at more than 60 locations today. 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.

“I think the pandemic definitely gave me a new appreciation of my surroundings and keeping things beautiful. I walk a lot so I’ll come down with a bag to the River Avenue Beach and just clean at 6 o’clock in the morning and it is a good feeling just to do something and not expect anything in return except a beautiful place to live,” said Maggi Schwarz.

“We’ve found pens, straws, a lot of little plastic which to me is really important to pick up and put away because sea life would just eat it thinking it’s food so it is not just the big stuff but the little things that make a difference.”

Among debris and other items collected Saturday during Point Pleasant Borough’s Beach Sweeps was 117 food/candy wrappers; 15 store/shopping bags; 137 bottle caps/lids; 245 cigarette filters; 46 straws/stirrers; five disposable face masks; seven disposable gloves; 32 lumber pieces; among much more.

For more on this story, read next week's edition of The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.

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