Thursday, May 2, 2019

Welcome Back to the COA Crew!

Kari (Jermansen) Martin returns to COA as the Education Coordinator. Some of you may recall that Kari originally joined the COA staff in 2000 as a college intern. In 2001 she joined the staff full time focusing on outreach and education.  Her exceptional talents enabled her to grow the position ultimately becoming Policy Outreach and Communications Director. Having met her future husband while staffing a COA table, Kari left her position in 2009 to raise a family.  Later she joined COA’s Board of Trustees from 2015-2019.  In rejoining the staff she has resigned that post.

At COA, Kari will develop and manage several COA education programs, and will also assist with administration.

Kari received her Master of Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, with a concentration in Environmental Policy & Democratic Processes.  Her Master’s thesis developed from her experience as a summer intern for COA.  She received her undergraduate degree from Alfred University, with a double major in Environmental Studies and Political Science. 

Kari spends her summers enjoying Midway Beach and the surrounding coastal areas in Ocean County, NJ.  She is a diligent advocate for the environment, especially the ocean, and is committed to educating people of all ages about their role and responsibility in improving and protecting our environment. Welcome back, Kari!

Bottles are a Blight on the Banks of the Delaware River

Students and teachers from Hightstown High School celebrated Earth Month by participating in a Delaware River Sweep with COA on Saturday, April 6. This was the third cleanup held at a site along Lamberton Rd in Trenton, which is one of several plastic litter hotspot areas along the Delaware River that COA has been focusing on as part of the Delaware Sweeps.

 In just a few hours, 22 volunteers collected 3,036 pieces of debris from a small area along the riverbank. Volunteers from Hightstown High School collected 2,721 pieces of plastic and foam and strange items such as a foam turtle mask, Nerf darts, a mattress, and a toy golf putter. Astoundingly, nearly 90% of the debris collected was plastic, and plastic beverage bottles were the most common item, with 733 bottles removed from the site.

Bucket Brigade Hits the Beach

Thousands of Hardy All-Weather Friends Swept Beaches

Over 5,000 volunteers gathered on Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 9:00am – 12:30pm at over 60 New Jersey beaches and waterways to clean harmful debris at Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 34th Annual Spring Beach Sweeps. Rain and cloudy morning skies didn’t deter enthusiastic volunteers from spending the morning cleaning, collecting and tabulating debris that they removed from shorelines from Bergen to Cape May Counties.

Although garbage bags were provided at each Beach Sweep site, this year we urged citizens to further eliminate plastic by bringing their own bucket (BYOB) and the response was incredible.

Beach Sweeps help reduce water pollution from beaches to stop debris from entering waterways where they become harmful and even lethal to aquatic life. The data from the Beach Sweeps turns a one-day event into a legacy of information to improve public awareness, change wasteful habits, enforce litter laws and improve policies to reduce sources of marine debris. Marine debris is a human caused, human solved issue.

Visit to view past years’ Annual Beach Sweeps Reports to learn more about non-point source pollution.

Record Numbers Released in COA’s 2018 Beach Sweeps Report

At a press conference overlooking the ocean on April 2, COA released the 2018 Beach Sweeps Report at Sandy Hook, highlighting the twelve most commonly collected items (“The Dirty Dozen”) along with the most outrageous finds (“The Roster of the Ridiculous”) and detailing the breakdown of the total 454,365 pieces of marine debris collected by a record 10,148 energetic volunteers.

2018 Record Numbers
As in previous years, the majority of the debris removed was single use plastic. The total amount of plastic waste removed was 81.77%, including foam. The evidence is clear: society’s epidemic use of disposable plastic items is increasing and adding litter to beaches, harm to marine life, and negative impacts to water quality. Plastics collect contaminants and break down into smaller and smaller bits, ultimately becoming microplastics. Overall, plastics are causing significant threats to the food chain.

2018 Highlights
The total amount of the Dirty Dozen is 72% of all trash removed, with persistent and harmful plastic dominating the list. This demonstrates the prevalence of plastic in our growing disposable society. In 2018, 93% of the Dirty Dozen debris collected was plastic.

Plastic caps/lids made #2 of the Dirty Dozen list in 2018 with 61,358 pieces collected. This figure is up from the 50,881 caps/lids collected in 2017. Straws/stirrers made #4 on the Dirty Dozen list and are also up from 31,167 collected in 2017 to 36,156 collected in 2018.

The report also details substantial increases or decreases (over 20%) as compared to 2017.  Significant increases were in plastic pieces, plastic bottles, diapers and glass pieces. Plastic pieces, the #1 item, increased from 56,201 in 2017 to 75,899 in 2018. Decreases were seen in cigarette filters, tires and metal fishing sinkers.

Balloons Higher than Ever
Balloons increased by 32.16% in 2018 when compared to 2017. In 2018, volunteers collected 5,470 balloons (mylar and rubber), exceeding the previous record of 4,159 balloons from 2011 by 31.52%.

In 2018 COA’s Beach Sweep data was used to help pass a statewide smoking ban on New Jersey’s beaches, urge Governor Murphy to veto and fix the statewide Bag Fee Bill, and support municipalities that passed local ordinances to ban single use products. To view the complete 2018 Beach Sweeps Report, visit