What Is Adopt A Beach?

Adopt A Beach is a program designed to foster volunteer stewardship of the states beaches. The New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) selects two days per year, one in the spring and one in the fall, for statewide cleanups. Volunteers clean up litter and debris on the cleanup days. The NJCCC encourages volunteers to adopt beaches and clean them throughout the year. Beach adoptions must be coordinated with towns. Beaches are defined as coastal beaches, bays, rivers, lakes streams and all waterways.

Why should I adopt a beach?

Debris on beaches affects our enjoyment of these natural settings. Debris on the beaches and streets can enter waters during high tides and adversely impact the quality of the water, sea mammals and other marine life. Public participation in beach cleanups is part of the statewide strategy to combat water pollution.

Who can adopt a beach?

Any group, organization, business, family or individual may clean a beach.

How do I adopt a beach?

Your group can clean a beach by calling the NJCCC at (609) 989-5900. You may tell NJCCC which beach you or your group would like to clean or NJCCC can assist your group in selecting a beach. Beaches will be assigned on a first come-first served basis. At the time you contact NJCCC, please be ready to supply your group leader’s name and a daytime telephone number at which the leader can be reached. NJCCC will enter your group’s name, the beach you have cleaned and your group leader into the Adopt A Beach database. If you have already called NJCCC, your group’s name and beach location may have been entered into the database. You are also encouraged to register online at www.njclean.org.

What does it mean to adopt a beach?

A. Responsibilities/Team

NJCCC will organize two volunteer cleanups each year. When you register with NJCCC, you agree to clean your beach location during those cleanups. You may also clean beach locations at other times during the year. However, beach adoptions must be coordinated directly with the town in which the beach is located. Your group must identify a group leader at the time you clean the beach. NJCCC will contact your group leader and provide information prior to beach cleanup day. Your group is solely responsible for your cleanup. If for any reason your group leader changes, please contact NJCCC at 609-989-5900 with the new leader’s name, address and phone number or file a correction online at www.njclean.org.

The Adopt A Beach Act requires every volunteer to sign a liability waiver form. The waiver releases NJCCC, DEP, government entities and all employees thereof from liability for injury or damages that are caused or sustained by volunteers during an Adopt A Beach event. Any volunteers who participate in the designated spring and fall or additional cleanups must sign a waiver. Minors must have a parent or guardian sign the waiver.

B. Responsibilities/Team Captain

NJCCC will provide volunteer group leaders with general cleanup instructions, waiver forms, data cards, safety tips and rules to observe while on the beach. NJCCC will be available to answer any questions that you may have. Group leaders must coordinate the cleanup with the mayor, town clerk, or public works department of the municipality in which the beach is located and arrange for trash disposal. NJCCC will issue a letter that outlines the provisions of the Adopt A Beach Act to the mayor of every municipality of the state. This letter notifies municipalities that volunteers will be contacting them.

Group leaders will oversee distribution of data cards that record information on the amounts and types of debris collected and will explain and give instructions for completing the NJCCC no later than two weeks after the cleanup.

Group leaders must verify that all volunteers have signed waiver forms prior to a volunteer’s participation in a beach cleanup. The group leader must send all waiver forms to NJCCC no later than two weeks after the cleanup.

C. Responsibilities/Volunteers

You must sign the liability waiver form to participate in an Adopt a Beach public volunteer statewide cleanup. Your group leader will provide you with this form. Minors must have a parent or guardian sign the waiver. You must record all beach debris collected at the cleanup. Your group leader will give you a data card and instructions for completing it on the day of the cleanup.


Wear comfortable shoes (such as sneakers or deck shoes). Please, no sandals and absolutely NO bare feet.

Wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Remember to bring rain gear in case of rain and a sweater or windbreaker in any weather since it is generally windier at the shore.

Wear Gloves

Bring bags for garbage and recyclables to use for collecting debris as you walk the beach. Garbage bags should be used for final disposal of all the garbage collected by your group. We recommend heavy-duty plastic bags.

Bring pencils with erasers, a clipboard, or board (to use underneath the data card).

Bring a first aid kit.

Bring food and beverages, if so desired.

Begin cleanups in the morning. We recommend a 9 a.m. start time.

Sort collected debris into two categories; recyclable (glass, aluminum, paper, plastic) and nonrecyclables (all other material). It might be easier to sort trash as you pick it up rather than sort it at the final disposal site. Bring collected trash to disposal and recycling sites.

Record data neatly and correctly on data collection cards. Tally results before handing the card to your group leader.

Do not pick up any vials or syringes. Report any waste of this type to your group leader.

Be aware that endangered beach nesting birds (piping plovers, least terns, black skimmers) may be nesting on the beach from mid-April through mid-August. If you have nesting birds at your adopted beach, clean only the intertidal beach from the waters edge to the wrack line (high tide line where most debris accumulates).

Provide adequate supervision for children.

Rest as often as necessary.

When you have cleaned your beach, quit for the day and pat yourself on the back for a job well done! If you find little or no debris on the beach, that’s great, but your job may not be over quite yet. Record even the little amount of debris that you have collected on your data card and submit it to your group coordinator. The information is important for New Jersey and national coastal cleanup statistics.

Remember, floatable trash is persistent and may wash ashore another day. You can always be a good beach steward by bringing a trash bag with you whenever you visit a beach. Educate family and friends about Adopt A Beach and ask them to volunteer by calling (609) 989-5900.