2019 Jun | By

by Deanna Boutte


With the weather warming up and everyone planning their summer beach trips, it's important to remind everyone that with more foot traffic inevitably comes more trash left behind on our beautiful beaches. We're hearing more and more about the amount of garbage already floating in the oceans and dumped into our seas every day.

That shouldn't stop anyone from spending a sunny day on the shore and we all try to do our part by not littering, but there's more each and every one of us can do! It doesn't mean we're perfect; the more people shift their habits, the better off we'll all be. Here are a few ways to help decrease the amount of litter left on beaches this summer.

1) Carry In, Pack Out

Some beaches, especially more remote ones, are often unregulated. Meaning, there aren’t dumpsters conveniently located nor are garbage trucks coming every few hours to make sure trash cans are maintained. Even regulated beaches can become overrun on busy weekends. Garbage can start to pile up near already-full bins with the expectation that someone will eventually take out the trash. Sadly, a gust of wind can send that overflow into the ocean or a few hungry birds can pick the trash apart scattering it across the shoreline. When visiting, bring compostable trash bags and take your trash back home with you - don't rely on beach trash cans. That way you can dispose of your trash in a secure setting and lessen the impact. Want to do more? Bring extra compostable trash bags and pack out some of that overflow if you see it. 

2) Make a Game Out of It

Everyone loves a good game. One way to keep the kids occupied while also teaching them that we cannot simply ignore litter is to make cleaning up a game. It can be as simple as “whoever gets the most trash wins” or you can be a little more interactive and give points for high-risk trash objects like plastic bottles, plastic shopping bags, and six-pack rings. Make sure to bring gloves and plenty of extra trash bags in case you make friends along the way! And remember, anything you pick up is a few less baggies and six-pack rings that could end up in the stomachs of our ocean wildlife!

3) Be a Good Example

You never know who you might inspire - if bystanders see you packing out trash, picking up garbage that’s not yours, or hosting a litter clean up contest, you could be the reason why someone makes a brighter decision about their waste in the future. If you see people littering, offer them one of your an extra bags and perhaps even lend a hand. No one likes to be called out for their mistakes, so if you remove the finger pointing, you’re likely to get a positive response. One friendly gesture could be the reminder someone needed.


4) Beyond the Beach

While we do our part to ensure trash is kept off beaches and thus, out of our oceans - what about when we take a dip or go for a swim? Some of the chemicals found in your typical sunscreen, oxybenzone and octinoxate just to name a few, are harmful to the ocean’s coral reef systems. Coral reefs are endangered, yet act as a crucial ecosystem for marine life. Consider switching out your sunscreens for “reef safe” products. The state of Hawaii already legally banned the sale of sunscreens containing such harmful chemicals set to go in effect in 2021, but why wait? Keep this in mind next time you’re about to buy a tube. You’ll still be preventing sunburn, but you will also help in ocean preservation.

5) Support Your Local Clean Up Crew

There are hundreds of organizations out there with coastal cleanup efforts in place. Many of them offer incentives to volunteers like t-shirts, a post-cleanup BBQ, raffle prizes and more! Prizes and celebrations are a great way to get the community together, but the real win is knowing you made a difference. You are sure to meet friends, get a few high fives, and who knows, you might even find buried treasure in the sand. Can’t find a cleanup crew to join? Start your own! Head down to your local non-profit organization or community center and ask how you can get started.


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