Clean Ocean Action


Q: When is the next COA Beach Sweep?

A: Our Beach Sweeps take place, rain or shine, on one Saturday in April and October from 9:00 am-12:30 pm. Dates for the following year are determined during the summer of the previous year. For 2020, the dates are Saturday, April 25 and Saturday, October 24.


Q: How do I select a Beach Sweeps location?

A: The Beach Sweeps occur at 60+ locations, primarily along the NJ shoreline  at the same time on the day of the event, unless otherwise noted. Select a site from the map and/or the list of cleanup locations, then simply register at and attend!


Q: Who can participate in the Beach Sweeps?

A: Volunteers of all ages are welcome to participate in the Beach Sweeps. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Both walk-ons and registered volunteers can participate.


Q: What time does the event start and end? Is it required that I attend for the entire time?

A: Check-in for participants will begin at 9am and end at 12:30pm, unless otherwise noted. We encourage participants to stay as long as they can, but there are no time requirements.


Q: What is the data card used for?

A: Clean Ocean Action compiles the data collected by our volunteers from the data cards. We total all of the information and produce an annual report showing the results from the Spring and Fall  Beach Sweeps of each year. The data collected provides a legacy of information that can be used to identify sources of pollution, monitor trends, and discover and promote solutions. This data has been used in legislation to pass bills that will reduce the waste entering our oceans. A recent example  is when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently used COA’s data about the enormous amount of cigarette filters collected during COA’s Beach Sweeps to help pass legislation to ban smoking on public beaches and in public parks.


Q: What do I have to do to prepare for a Beach Sweep?

A: Prior to the event date, online registration is recommended for participants who plan to attend with a large group (10 or more). On the day of the event, be sure to wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and dress according to the weather conditions. Bring your own gloves and a reusable water bottle. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring their own bucket for trash collection, as this helps to reduce the number of plastic bags used. All other materials to clean the beaches will be provided.


Q: How can I get more involved?

A: There are plenty of ways to get more involved with the Beach Sweeps, plastic reduction, and COA’s other initiatives, including:

·         Learn more about being a Beach Captain!

·         Not 18 years of age yet? Apply to be a Junior Beach Captain!

·         Donate to support the Beach Sweeps and COA’s year-round programs.



Q: Where can I find the online registration form?

A: If registration is open, the online registration form can be found on our main Beach Sweeps page. Registration for the Beach Sweeps typically opens about two months prior to the event (mid-February and mid-August). The registration form will not be available if registration has not yet opened.


Q: Is registration required?

A: Registration is not required, but it is encouraged, especially for groups of 10 people or more. However, walk-ons (unregistered volunteers) are always welcome to participate in the Beach Sweeps.


Q: How do I register a group? Does each member need to register separately?

A: An individual can complete the registration for a group using our online registration form or by contacting COA by phone at 732-872-0111. It is not necessary for each individual in a group to register, just one submission per group is sufficient. That person will serve as the contact in the event of a location change or other instance where volunteers need to be contacted.


Q: What can I expect after I register?

A: A confirmation email is sent within 10 days of completion of the registration form. This email will not specify the location that you registered for, so please take note of your selected cleanup location when filling out the online registration form. All registered volunteers will receive a site-specific email the week prior to the Beach Sweeps.

Q: What if I registered but can no longer attend?

A: If a group of 10 or more cannot attend the Beach Sweep that they previously registered for or would like to switch cleanup locations, it is recommended that they send an email to outreach@(Spam protected email address) to notify COA of the cancellation. Small groups or individuals that need to cancel or change cleanup locations do not need to notify COA.


Beach Sweeps Day

Q: What should I bring with me the day of the event?

A: The cleanup can last for a few hours so it is important that participants are prepared for walking and being in the elements for an extended period of time. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes, dress for the weather, and bring gloves. To help reduce the number of plastic garbage bags used, volunteers are also encouraged to bring your own bucket for trash collection. It may also be useful to have a small drawstring bag or backpack along with items such as gloves, a reusable water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. to make the experience more enjoyable. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring your passion for the ocean and a positive attitude!


Q: What happens when I get to the cleanup location?

A: Each cleanup location has a volunteer Beach Captain who is in charge of the cleanup activities at their site. Beach Captains will provide participants with a black bag for garbage, a white bag for recycling, and a data card to use during the cleanup. Gloves are not provided. When you pick up a piece of debris, record the debris in the appropriate spot on the data card, then place the debris into the correct bag (garbage or recycling). While on the beach, please be respectful of the wildlife and avoid walking on the sand dunes. Tally your data card items when you are finished.


Q: What if I find something I am not comfortable picking up?

A: Do not pick up anything that makes you uncomfortable. Please alert your Beach Captain about any issues or safety concerns during the event.


Q: What do I do with my data card and trash bags after I finish?

A: Total all of the items on your data card and enter the total items collected for each item in the box. Then, return your completed data card (front and back) to the Beach Captain. Follow instructions provided by the Beach Captain regarding where to place your garbage and recycling bags. If you brought your own bucket, be sure to dump the contents of your bucket into the appropriate bag (trash or recycling). Be sure to return any additional supplies that the Beach Captain may have provided (gloves, trash pickers, etc.).


Q: How can I receive verification of my volunteer hours, if needed?

A: Of course! Please ask the volunteer Beach Captain at your site about verifying your volunteer hours. They will have a form available for you to fill out, or you can bring your own. The Beach Captain will gladly provide a signature to verify your hours.


Q: Who do I contact for questions on the day-of the Beach Sweeps?

A: In the case of safety emergencies, contact 911 (debris on the beach is not an emergency). For all other concerns on-site, speak to your Beach Captain.

·         If you are en route to the cleanup location, there will be instructions on the office answering machine (732-872-0111) as to who to contact with urgent questions, if necessary. However, the most efficient way to receive an answer to a question is by planning ahead and contacting COA before the day of the Beach Sweeps at outreach@(Spam protected email address) or 732-872-0111. The Beach Sweeps is a statewide event that requires assistance from all COA staff, so there will not be any staff available to answer phone calls received at the COA office on the day of the Beach Sweeps. Again, it is strongly recommended to ask questions before the date of the event so that COA staff can be of immediate assistance and ensure a safe and enjoyable Beach Sweeps for all.


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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