For Immediate Release - September 05, 2012

State’s Annual Volunteer Beach Cleanup, COASTSWEEP, Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

State officials encourage all to come out and help clean up the Massachusetts coastline

2012 COASTSWEEP cleanup sites

BOSTON – Wednesday, September 5, 2012 – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced the kickoff of the 25th annual COASTSWEEP, the state’s annual volunteer beach cleanup organized by EEA's Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the UMass Boston Urban Harbors Institute (UHI). Since 1987, thousands of volunteers have removed hundreds of tons of debris from the state’s coastline and waterways. Again this year, state environmental officials are asking for volunteers to help tackle the problem of trash and other marine debris along the Commonwealth’s coast.

To mark the anniversary, efforts are being made to support cleanups in every coastal town in Massachusetts, culminating in a celebration at Carson Beach in South Boston In October. This event will bring nearly 250 students, teachers and parents from Boston’s Josiah Quincy Upper School to help clean one of the city’s most popular beaches.

“I commend the thousands of hard-working and committed volunteers who have turned out over the last 25 years to do their part in keeping our state’s beaches and coastlines clean," said Secretary Sullivan. “I encourage all Commonwealth citizens to get involved and help us celebrate this anniversary by organizing their own clean up or by joining one that is already scheduled.”

In addition to the important task of removing trash, COASTSWEEP volunteers record information about what they collect. The data collected at each cleanup is fed into an international marine debris database maintained by Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup program. This information is used to better understand the sources of marine debris globally and develop solutions for prevention.

"Over the last 25 years, COASTSWEEP has grown tremendously, and I’m proud that we have been able to work with dedicated local volunteers to remove literally tons of trash from the shoreline," said CZM Director Bruce Carlisle. “These efforts not only make our shoreline more beautiful, they help keep the coastal environment safe for humans and marine animals.”

Trash and other marine debris is more than an eyesore, it can also directly harm sea life and humans. Sea birds, seals and other animals can be choked, starved or poisoned when they become entangled or mistake debris for food. Sea turtles are particularly vulnerable and can die after swallowing clear plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish.  Beachgoers can injure themselves on glass, wood or metal while swimming or walking on the sand, and boaters can become stranded when propellers are jammed with fishing line, or cooling intakes are clogged with plastic.

In addition to participating in a COASTSWEEP cleanup, there are several steps that people can take to prevent trash from becoming marine debris: secure trash bins; recycle; use reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee mugs; and refrain from littering.

Cleanups are held throughout September and October in Massachusetts coastal communities. To join a cleanup or organize your own, check out the COASTSWEEP website at or call (617) 287-5570. All cleanup supplies (bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, etc.) are provided free of charge and cleanups can be scheduled at your convenience.

Become a friend of COASTSWEEP on Facebook at or follow COASTSWEEP and marine debris issues on Twitter at

COASTSWEEP is part of Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, which works with communities all around the world to help address marine debris. In addition to EEA, CZM and UHI, COASTSWEEP 2012 sponsors include the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Weston Solutions, the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth.