There were fewer diapers and condoms collected from New Jersey beaches in 2021 compared to years past, but across just six hours last year, volunteers for Clean Ocean Action collected a record 513,605 pieces of debris from the state's shoreline.

During a virtual press conference on Wednesday, the Long Branch-based group noted that plastic continues to dominate their Beach Sweeps campaigns. Plastic and foam plastic represented 82.32% of the trash haul.

More than ever before, volunteers recorded 69,454 plastic bottle caps and lids. The cleanups also recorded substantial increases from 2019 for balloons, plastic toys, and foam packaging materials.

And there were plenty of reminders of the coronavirus pandemic for the more than 10,000 volunteers who came out in April and October.

"We found a total of 3,080 disposable masks, 538 reusable masks, and then 1,310 reusable gloves," said Alison Jones, watershed program manager for Clean Ocean Action.

A handful of items were spotted much less often in 2021 compared to 2019 (the pandemic cancelled both cleanups in 2020). The number of diapers collected last year, for example, was down more than 40%. Volunteers also collected fewer 6-pack holders, condoms, glass, and tampon applicators.

Weird stuff

Clean Ocean Action
Clean Ocean Action

Across more than 513,000 pieces of trash, you're bound to spot a few odd items.

Among the long list of interesting finds: a car bumper; boat parts; a full set of dentures; a mini fridge; a CD holder with only Limp Bizkit music; a fire extinguisher; a glow-in-the-dark condom; a mason jar of hooch; a fake eye; and a Turkish Airlines hygiene kit.

Page 5 of this report will give you the full rundown of the "roster of the ridiculous."

Help wanted

Volunteers hit 70 site locations in 2021, from Perth Amboy to Cape May. Now, Clean Ocean Action needs another round of volunteers for its next Beach Sweeps, scheduled for April 9 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Here's a list of the 75 locations where COA is running the campaign next month. Use this form to register. Volunteers are urged to bring their own buckets for trash collection.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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