BOSTON — The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs today announced that COASTSWEEP, Massachusetts’ statewide beach cleanup, will officially start on September 21, 2019, and encouraged volunteers to join dozens of cleanups along the coast this fall. Organized by the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), COASTWEEP cleanups are held from September into early November. Since 1987, thousands of COASTSWEEP volunteers have removed hundreds of tons of marine debris and other trash from Massachusetts beaches, lakes, rivers and the seafloor.
“Residents across the state had another wonderful summer enjoying the Commonwealth’s coastline, and now’s the time to give back by getting out to a COASTSWEEP beach cleanup,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “As trash and marine debris have serious impacts on oceans and waterways, residents are encouraged to volunteer or organize another local cleanup this fall to keep the coast safe and beautiful.”
This year’s COASTSWEEP kickoff will be held at Salisbury Beach State Reservation at 10:00a.m. on Saturday, September 21, 2019. Secretary Theoharides will join staff from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for this popular cleanup that draws hundreds of volunteers each year.
COASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy. In 2018, more than one million volunteers joined cleanups in 122 countries worldwide. In addition to the important task of removing trash and other marine debris, COASTSWEEP volunteers record data on what they find. This information is entered into Ocean Conservancy’s international marine debris database, which helps researchers and policymakers better understand the sources of global marine debris and develop solutions for prevention.
“COASTSWEEP could not be possible without the thousands of dedicated volunteers who come out each fall to remove literally tons of trash from our shoreline, making the coast cleaner and safer for people and wildlife,” said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “Because most trash on beaches starts as street litter, everyone can help the coast all year by always properly disposing of trash.”
From plastics as tiny as a grain of sand to items as large as abandoned cars, marine debris is more than an eyesore. Sea birds, seals and other animals can be harmed when they swallow or become entangled in these materials. Sea turtles are particularly vulnerable and can die after swallowing clear plastic bags, which look like their favorite food, jellyfish. Beachgoers can injure themselves on glass, wood or metal while walking on the sand or swimming off the coast, and boaters can find themselves stranded when propellers are jammed with fishing line or cooling intakes are clogged with plastic.
During COASTSWEEP 2018, more than 3,240 volunteers removed over 7 tons of trash from 97 sites in Massachusetts. Once again, cigarette butts were the most common item collected (34,401), followed by plastic pieces (21,405) and food wrappers (9,199). Many other plastic items were also collected and catalogued—including bags, bottles and caps, straws, utensils, food containers, six-pack holders, fishing line and coffee lids—for a grand total of 54,291 plastic items tallied on Bay State beaches.
A great way to get involved in COASTSWEEP is to organize a cleanup. All supplies (bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc.) are provided free of charge and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience. You can also volunteer at a scheduled cleanup. To join a cleanup or organize one of your own, check out the COASTSWEEP website or call (617) 626-1200.
The Massachusetts Office Coastal Zone Management is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency’s work includes helping coastal communities address the challenges of storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change; working with state, regional and federal partners to balance current and new uses of ocean waters while protecting ocean habitats and promoting sustainable economic development; and partnering with communities and other organizations to protect and restore coastal water quality and habitats.