Author: Rachel Senescu
Our beaches are so beautiful, peaceful and welcoming that we sometimes forget that they are also often abused when it comes to litter and garbage being left around unnecessarily. Have you ever noticed unattended, abandoned trash laying around the sand or seen a trash bin overflowing and still being added to without care?
Most trash around the beach is from lazy beach-goers, unfortunately, but there is also wind-blown rubbish from nearby dumps that are being inundated with the wasteful ways of our “single-use” society- a society that is ignoring the real threat related to that life-style. Plastic pollution has been gradually ruining our oceans and its ecosystem for decades, not to mention overflowing our dump sites at an alarming rate.
Regardless of how this trash made its way to our shoreline, making sure that you aren’t a contributor to this litter issue is first and foremost. Plus, there are a lot of things we can each do to curb the litter and the wasteful consumption leading up to this problem in our local beach communities.
A few ideas of some fundamental, extremely helpful ways to make a positive impact at your local beach are as follows:
Bring/ utilize reusable bags for carrying food and beach items that you bring along with you.
It’s necessary to bring things along with you to enjoy a long day at the beach such as towels, extra clothes, beach toys, food and water, for example. Just be sure to use a long-lasting, reusable tote bag or even a wheeled wagon or trolly instead of plastic grocery bags to carry all of your extras.
Bring your own trash bags and throw your own trash away.
We all need to have some snacks handy while spending hours at the beach, whether we’re there for swimming, walking on the sand or SUP surfing. Let’s just be sure to take care of our own trash accordingly.
Here’s an appropriate time to bring along a disposable plastic bag for all of your personal trash that accumulates while having snacks throughout the day. Even a mid-sized paper lunch sac can normally hold any rubbish that needs to get tossed into a trash bin. Also, if a bin is full, simply walk over to one that isn’t overly stuffed or even take it home with you to dispose of it.
Pick up random litter that you notice in your vicinity.
Don’t be afraid to pick up someone else’s litter or anything that you notice has blown out of a nearby bin. You can always use some hand sanitizer or go wash your hands accordingly and move on with your fun-time. It’s a great way to help out and really makes a big impact, especially when everyone does it!
Never leave cigarette butts around.
Cigarette butts are the number one kind of litter found around the entire world, including beaches. The sand is NOT a huge, never ending ashtray. If you smoke, do so responsibly and when finished, snuff out the hot embers properly and then put the butt in the trash. Or even your own personal trash bag.
Use refillable water bottles for your beverages. Avoid single use plastic products altogether.
Besides cigarette butts and food packaging/ wrappers, water bottles (well, all plastic beverage bottles) are the next largest issue. Using a refillable water bottle is such an important way to help with plastic pollution. Another thing to add here is bringing your own reusable utensils so as not to use (and then throw away) single use plastic cutlery and straws.
Clean up after your pets.
Honestly, there’s nothing worse than stepping in animal feces that was barely buried in the sand. Just like the beach isn’t an ashtray, it’s also not an enormous litterbox for dog poop. Dogs are the most common pet at beaches by far, but horses and their poop can be around as well. So, pet owners, please be respectful and clean that poop up!
Kids at the beach...
Children don’t always follow rules that are set by parents, so keep an extra watchful eye on their trash and how they are disposing of it. If you continually remind and guide them and set specific boundaries, they will fall in line. So, keep up the good work, parents and keep leading them in the right direction with proper beach care and etiquette.
Become a volunteer at a beach cleanup chapter near you.
This is one of many great ways to give back to your community and a wonderful activity to bring your kids along to. It’s also a nice way to help reinforce pride and caring for one’s community as well as bring more awareness to the youngsters that litter is a real problem that needs everyone's attention, especially at our beaches and oceans.
So, as we wind down out of Summer-time and into the Fall, let’s not forget our lovely companion, the beach, still needs our help and attention even during the “off-season”. If we care for our beaches and the oceans now, we can help reverse the damage from plastic pollution that has been compounding over the last many decades. Not only will we do our part to repair the damage that we have all contributed to but we will also ensure the future enjoyment of the beaches we all love to SUP, surf, walk and play at.