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Is Beach Cleanup Effort in Trouble?

Environmentalists worry about turnout this year

The county’s annual fifth-of-July beach cleanup crew may be slimmer than in past years, and that has begun to worry leaders from Save Our Shores, Santa Cruz’s marine conservation nonprofit. With Independence Day falling on a Monday, it will be the first time in three years that the day-after cleanup doesn’t fall on the weekend.

Ryan Kallabis, communications manager for Save Our Shores (SOS), is trying to get the word out about the cleanup, as well as the volunteer efforts on the Fourth to hand out trash bags along the coast and tell beachgoers about stewardship. With fewer volunteers expected this year, prevention will be more important, and Kallabis is launching a social media campaign to remind folks that “no one likes a dirty beach.”

The first of the group’s five tips this year is to leave Styrofoam at home. Vacationers often bring large polystyrene coolers to the beach, filled with food and drink for the holiday. Then when people head back, sometimes they realize that the beach’s trash cans are all full. They end up leaving their garbage in the coolers on the beach, and the tourists may think they’re doing everyone a favor, Kallabis says, by putting it all in one place.

“But there are waves. There are birds. There’s wind. And these things get torn apart,” he says. “You can imagine dozens of families bringing these things. The whole beach becomes a Styrofoam mess.”

The second tip is to pack food and drinks in reusable containers worth taking back home. Beach lovers should also bring party equipment in reusable bags, Kallabis recommends. The fourth tip is not to leave firework shells, tents, barbecues, coolers or chairs behind. Lastly, Kallabis says vacationers should not burn trash or put it in a fire pit because shards can get carried out to sea.

This year, SOS is shooting for a goal of 300 volunteers. Last year’s cleanup had 182. The nonprofit’s all-time high was around 600 volunteers for an Earth Day cleanup.

News Editor at |

Jacob, the news editor at Good Times, won the 2014 award for best local government coverage from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. A longtime basketball and football fanatic, Jacob has evolved into a shameless fair weather fan and band wagoner for hot West Coast sports teams. He also enjoys arguing with others about where to find the best burrito in town.

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