Annual ‘Beach Sweep’ aims to keep South Carolina’s oceans and waterways clean

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The annual Beach Sweep is the largest litter clean-up in the state of South Carolina, and it happens every year on the third Saturday in September.

“Not only picking up trash today but all the information we gather will hopefully keep beaches clean throughout the year,” said Frank Johnson, WBTW’s chief meteorologist and a beach-cleanup site captain.

The cleanup was first organized by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium in 1988. Now, thousands of volunteers come together once a year to clear trash from the state’s beaches and waterways.

“It’s the biggest one-day cleanup in the state,” Johnson said.

Johnson has been a site captain for the past 12 years, leading the Pawley’s Island cleanup. 

“There are a lot of areas in South Carolina where we just have beautiful waterways, and a lot of people take care of them and we love the area we live in,” Johnson said.

Volunteers are sent to different locations with garbage bags and a checklist to help them keep track of the trash they’re finding.

“All this information goes back to the state, Johnson said. “SCDNR is involved as well, and it’s actually part of a global ocean cleanup, the Ocean Conservatory, so they take all this data and they can figure out where the trash is coming from.”

While the information helps to pinpoint those specific areas, it also raises awareness to keep beaches and waterways clear. 

“I mean, it’s fun to be out on the beach in the morning picking up trash, and it’s a great way to encourage that in children, and as they grow up, maybe they’re more conscience about littering or picking litter up when they see it,” Johnson said.

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