The goal of the Surfrider Foundation Cape Fear Chapter’s Beach Sweep initiative is to keep our shorelines free from all forms of litter, for a safer and cleaner environment.

Our beaches continually suffer from unnecessary pollution, from trash left behind by beachgoers, to discarded trash that washes up on shore from the ocean, which is often times carried by our local rivers to the sea. Not only is this unattractive, but also unsafe for residents and tourists, pets, sea life, and wildlife. 

The more common items found along our beaches include plastic and glass bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts, old tires, deck boards, and fish netting. Working to clean our beaches and remove the immediate hazards for people and animals is only the first step. While we may be able to keep a child from being injured on broken glass, or a seagull from becoming entangled in discarded netting, a larger problem lies within ingesting these pollutants. Many animals are dying of starvation from feeding on trash that their bodies cannot digest. And we must also be concerned with the breakdown of larger items into microplastics, which are consumed by the birds and fish, making their way into the food chain, and eventually, our own bodies. 

The Beach Sweep initiative strives to raise awareness of the challenges that our shorelines and sea life face in a disposable society. We aim to keep a presence at our local beaches, taking action to help mitigate some of the damages by inviting the public to participate in coordinated beach sweeps. We will encourage everyone to support the banning of single use plastics; make more environmentally friendly choices where possible; and, to make use of local recycling options. 

BEACH SWEEP OUTCOMES 2019

1. This is the initiation year for the Beach Sweep Program in the Cape Fear Chapter, and all areas within our footprint will be evaluated for cleanup potential. 

The Beach Sweep Coordinator will put together a working database of all potential beachfront cleanup areas. This will include a visual inspection of as much shoreline as possible, noting specific problem areas and shoreline measurement. Tributaries and waterways along the beaches will also be evaluated as possible cleanup sites. All necessary cleanup equipment will be acquired, and arrangements will be made (as necessary) for the disposal and/or recycling of waste. 

2. The Beach Sweep Program will widen our active service area; increase awareness of the Surfrider program in those areas; and, increase chapter membership by at least 15%.

The beach sweep coordinator will table at four events this year. Each event will be at a different beach within our chapter boundaries, and at least three of the tabling events will be at a beach area in which our chapter does not currently have an active presence. 

3. The Beach Sweep Program will hold a minimum of four beachfront cleanups. 

The beach sweep coordinator will organize a beach sweep at four different beaches. Of the four beach sweeps, at least two will occur in our previously underserved areas. If possible, the cleanups will be set for 1-2 weeks following the tabling event, and sign-up sheets for the cleanups will be made available at the event.

4. The Beach Sweep Program will hold a minimum of two beach tributary cleanups.

The beach sweep coordinator will set cleanups in two waterway areas (creeks, canals, or wetland areas). Participants will be invited to clean along the shoreline, or bring personal watercraft (kayaks, canoes) and clean debris from the waterline.

Contact our Beach Sweep Coordinator, Eileen Keates