Show your patriotism these Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends by respecting the land upon which you celebrate! Despite the beach alcohol ban imposed in January 2008, the type of trash has changed, but not the amount. Based on our beach cleanup data, we have identified a few items that lead to the most beach trash and thought up easy replacements for you AND THE BEACH to have a good time.
What NOT to bring:
-Styrofoam: I know that cooler is super cheap, but Styrofoam is one of our top finds in our beach cleanups. It breaks up into tiny little pieces and flies into storm drains, bushes, the ocean, etc. It is not only unsightly and difficult to pick up, but it poses a threat to wildlife who mistake it for food. San Diego does not recycle Styrofoam, and Styrofoam is estimated to take over 500 years to biodegrade. Thus, every piece you ever use will be around for the next 5 generations of your own family!
-Plastic bottles: It may seem easy and convenient to bring your Sprite and Coke in those small individual plastic bottles, but try to opt for metal cans that are more cost-effective recyclables. Plastic is one of our Top Three Beach Trash items found in huge quantities at our cleanups and like Styrofoam, takes at least 500 years to biodegrade.
-Cigarettes: We collected 60,271 cigarette butts in 2012 and it has been illegal to smoke on San Diego beaches since 2006! If you must smoke, at least be responsible and get your butt in the trash can.
-Plastic Bags: These are so lightweight they will be out of your sight and into the sea in no time.
-Plastic-wrapped food: Try to avoid things that are heavily packaged in what will become trash! You won’t want to deal with it during your celebration, nor will the other patriots when it flies into their “O, Say Can You See”-singing mouths.
What to bring:
-Reusable Cooler: This will be a good way to haul out trash once the beverages are gone!
-Tupperware: Pack sandwiches and pasta salad and other homemade goodies in Tupperware, then you can just stack and wash them later.
-Reusable water bottle: Buy your water/beverages in bulk and then you can refill your bottle throughout the day.
-Reusable bag: Pack it in, Pack it out!
-Trash bags: If you are going to create trash, be prepared and have a place to stash it. It is likely someone didn’t bring their own bag and they trekked in tons of plastic bags. Ask around, make friends and you could reuse a plastic bag from another beach go-er. You can always reuse an empty chip bag for a trash bag; get creative!
-Finger Food and Napkins: Plastic utensils are not recyclable; what a waste of our precious non-renewable resources! Bring food that doesn’t require silverware. If you’re dead-set on coleslaw, bring chop sticks. You can always bring silverware from home and toss it back in the cooler with the Tupperware at the end of the day. Just make sure to have friends over the next day to help with the dishes.
Thank you for taking the time and care to reduce the amount of trash we create! It is a time to respect out history, our progress, our service members, and yes, to party with friends. It is not too much to ask to plan ahead and take responsibility for the trash you create at your own celebration.