Saturday is a beach day for volunteers

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

The 28th annual Beach Sweeps are Saturday, October 19. The 28th annual Beach Sweeps are Saturday, October 19.

VENTNOR – Volunteers will gather at beaches across the state for a bi-annual cleaning of the beach sponsored by Clean Ocean Action.

Led by a beach captain, teams of volunteers armed with gloves, bags and an inventory sheet to tally collected items, the 28th annual Beach Sweeps are Saturday, Oct. 19 and each of the Downbeach communities will participate rain or shine. In Longport, Commissioner Jim Leeds will begin at 8:30 at the community building at 32th and Atlantic avenues.

In Margate, Recycling Coordinator Franz Adler will lead volunteers beginning 9 a.m. at Granville Avenue beach and at the same time resident Beth Kwart will start sweeping with her group at Newport Avenue beach in Ventnor.

Leeds said he has led the sweep in Longport twice a year since October 2009 and said he has noticed a difference in debris on the beach.

“I think it’s good to give the community a little closer look at the things that do wash up on the beach and I have noticed in educating the public there is less debris washing ashore,” Leeds said. “I think things have improved considerably since my first participation in 2009 – it is cleaner. This weekend we may see some things we probably wouldn’t see because of the nor’easter that just went through.”

He said the inventories have proved that less of the top items have washed up on the beach. According to the 2012 annual report by Clean Ocean Action, the top 12 items collected by volunteers that year are: cigarette filters, plastic pieces, caps and lids, plastic food, candy wrappers and bags; foam pieces, beverages and soda bottles, cigar tips, glass pieces, paper pieces, lumber pieces, store shopping bags and forks, knives and spoons.

According to the report, 43,777 plastic pieces were collected in 2012, compared to 63,117 in 2011. However some items have increased including paper pieces, cigar tips, foam pieces and 49,362 cigarette filters were collected in 2012; 33,633 were collected in 2011.

“It will be interesting to see what the storm has done to the beach whether it’s cleaned it or not,” Leeds said.

Also, according to the report, the number of volunteers has decreased over the past three years with 6,916 people turning out in 2012. There were 7,575 the previous year and 8,372 volunteers in 2010.

Ultimately, Leeds said he would like to see more locals join the Beach Sweeps.

“I think it’s a good idea. I would like to get some more local participation and I preach it,” Leeds said.

Prior to Leeds, Kwart was a beach sweep captain in Longport and now is the captain in her hometown of Ventnor.  

Kwart said she got involved with the Surfrider Foundation five years ago because she wanted to make an impact locally and try to clean up the environment.

“Once I became more involved and started to do more with outreach and raising awareness to the issues that plastic causes in the ocean and the issues it causes in our environment, it started to feel like as a single parson there is only so much you can do. When you captain a beach or are at an event and you’re talking to a bunch of different people, it just can expand exponentially and make a larger impact,” Kwart said.

She said as a daily beach walker, she sees trash washed ashore nearly every day and picks it up. As one person, she said can only make a small impact.

“That’s also why these Beach Sweeps are so important because its hundreds of volunteers working all across the coast to clean up on the same day and the collective impact of that is greater than any single beach cleanup we could have locally,” Kwart said.

Although she will be on the beach 9 a.m.-noon on Sunday, Kwart said anyone who can spare some time will make a difference.

“Even if people can’t come for the whole three hours, even just coming for one hour makes a difference. You can come at any time and stay for a long as they can,” Kwart said.

She said Clean Ocean Action will provide supplies for the Beach Sweeps, all people need are comfortable clothes and to be prepared for a day in the sand.

Adler has been heading the Beach Sweep in Margate since 1989 and partners with the Atlantic County Utilities Authority each year for the Clean Ocean Action cleanups.

Margate also sponsors the biannual meeting for beach captains to get materials and meet before the Beach Sweeps.

“I think it’s a way of bringing the community together. If the beach is something the community values as resource, something you enjoy and recreation; when people go down the beach and take part in a cleanup, it gives them a sense of responsibility with that,” Adler said. “They see the beach in a different light as something that has to be maintained.”

Adler said various groups in the city participate in its own cleanups throughout the year and he feels the beach is not just something that you play on, but something that needs to be taken care of.

“We are down here in the wintertime and we have cleanups in the spring and the fall. We are the stewards, we are monitoring this beach so it’s nice and neat and clean and preserved for the people who come down,” Adler said. “We’re down there a lot.”

Other locations for Saturday’s Beach Sweeps include Missouri Avenue beach in Atlantic City, East Motts Creek Road in Galloway, and 17th Street South beach in Brigantine.

See www.cleanoceanaction.org for information.


blog comments powered by Disqus