In the 1970s, there was a television ad that depicted a stream choked with trash – aluminum cans and old tires, among other things – and the ad would cut away at the end to a Native American man with a tear running down his cheek.
The ads, of course, urged people not to litter, because of what it was doing to the environment.
If those ads were done today in New Jersey, the Indian would be a Lenni Lenape, and he’d be standing on a shoreline choked with plastic bottles and caps, because those are the most commonly discarded items on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, according to Clean Ocean Action.
Clean Ocean Action’s twice-yearly beach sweeps are set for Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m. at sites up and down the coast, from Sandy Hook to Cape May, as well as some inland sites.
They’ve become an annual rite of spring – a rite the group wishes was unneeded, as it continues to promote its message of protecting the marine environment by recycling and disposing of trash properly.
In the 2011 beach sweeps, more than 7,500 volunteers collected more than 450,000 pieces of debris, from plastic bottle caps and straws to the far more odd items like cell phones, fake vampire teeth, TVs, a prosthetic leg and even an adult-sized Elmo costume, according to the group’s annual report on the sweeps.
“Plastic, including foam, represents 83 percent of the total waste found in 2011,” the group’s website notes. “It is clear: disposable plastic items continue to litter beaches, threaten marine life, and impact water quality.”
This spring’s sweeps, which run until noon, also fall the day before Earth Day, which some towns are marking with events promoting environmental awareness. In Point Pleasant, one of the sites being swept is the Maxson Avenue beach on the Manasquan River, next to Riverfront Park where the borough’s Earth Day event will be held on Saturday immediately following the beach cleanup.
While many of those who volunteer for the beach sweeps arrive in groups who have registered ahead of time, Clean Ocean Action volunteers willingly accept individuals or groups who walk up to a site on Saturday morning to participate.
Here’s a list of sites in Ocean and Monmouth counties where cleanups are being held. Volunteers are usually on site by 8:30 a.m. to begin handing out bags and tally sheets – where you can keep track of the litter you collect. The complete list of sites can be found here.
MONMOUTH COUNTY LOCATIONS
Aberdeen: Fisherman's Parking Lot at Cliffwood Beach (Next to the roller hockey rink)
Allenhurst: Euclid Avenue beach
Asbury Park (2 sites): 1. Convention Hall at the Boardwalk; 2. North Beach (meet at the dirt lot near Asbury Towers)
Atlantic Highlands: Harbor parking lot on First Avenue
Avon: Pavilion at Norwood & Ocean avenues
Belmar (2 sites): 1. Belmar Fishing Club, First Avenue beach; (2) 16th Avenue beach
Bradley Beach: Gazebo at 5th & Ocean avenues
Deal: Philips Avenue beach
Highlands: (2 sites) 1. Popamore Point on Shore Drive; 2. Snug Harbor Avenue beach (behind Community Center)
Keansburg:- Laurel & Beachway avenues
Keyport: Cedar Street (First Street at waterfront)
Long Branch: Pier Village, meet at public access at Melrose Terrace and Ocean Avenue
Manasquan: Main Street beach
Middletown (3 sites): 1. Leonardo Public Beach South at Beach Avenue; 2. Ideal Beach at Ocean Avenue & Bayside Parkway; 3. Bayshore Waterfront Park, meet at Fishing Pier
Monmouth Beach: Bathing Pavilion at 29 Ocean Ave.
Ocean Grove: Main Street beach; meet at flagpole
Red Bank: Meet at Chapin Avenue
Sandy Hook: Parking Lot D (Seagulls' Nest Restaurant)
Sea Bright (4 sites): 1. Ferguson Beach, north of Rumson/Sea Bright Bridge; 2. Meet at Gaiter's Restaurant Oceanside; 3. Meet at Algarve Milano Oceanside; 4. Meet at Public Beach parking lot
Sea Girt: Boardwalk at Beacon Boulevard
Spring Lake: South End Pavilion at Atlantic & Ocean avenues
Tinton Falls: Historic Tinton Falls. Meet at Crawford House parking lot.
Union Beach: Florence Avenue at Front Street
OCEAN COUNTY LOCATIONS
Bay Head: Central Market, Route 35 and Mount Street
Beachwood: Public Beach, Compass Avenue on the Toms River
Brick: Brick Beach III on Route 35 North, next to Ocean Club and across from Bayside Park
Lavallette: Philadelphia Avenue beach
Mantoloking: Lyman Avenue beach
Normandy Beach: Meet at Labrador Lounge at Peterson Street and Route 35 North
Ocean Gate: Wildwood Avenue Pier
Ortley Beach: Third Avenue beach
Point Pleasant: Maxson Avenue and River Avenue beaches
Point Pleasant Beach (2 sites): 1. beach in front of Jenkinson's Aquarium on the Boardwalk 2. Maryland Avenue Beach
Seaside Heights (2 sites): 1. Grant Avenue on the boardwalk; 2. Bayside boat launch along Route 35 South
Seaside Park (5 sites): 1. Stockton Avenue on the boardwalk; 2. Second Avenue; 3. Midway Beach at 6th Lane; 4. Island Beach State Park Bathing Pavilion 1; 5. 14th. Avenue and South Bayview Avenue