Clean Summer Surf

Debra Rose

Finally! Whether you are raising a glass or bracing yourself, summer is officially here. Welcoming “the season” brings with it the opportunity to start the summer being more mindful, especially about our environment. We have more traffic to navigate, people see and parties to attend. Lines are longer, more restaurants are open, and the beach suddenly comes to life with families, friends, summer surfers and food vendors.

While we cannot control for every seasonal shift, we can be aware and proactive about keeping our beach clean and our ocean pristine. Daily actions do add up, whether it is making sure to take your garbage with you when you leave the beach, or grabbing a few more items you may notice that others have left behind. Surfers are acutely more aware of the trash on the sand and in the water, but we can all make an effort.

Fundamentally we may resist the idea of cleaning up after someone else, or subconsciously want to believe that our beaches are “cleaned” by some other service or organization. Finding buried beer cans from a bonfire the night before might spark annoyance rather than motivation to get the debris off the beach as soon as possible. Unidentifiable or larger trash may be easier to ignore when you are taking a walk or setting up your blanket for the day.

We asked surfers and non-surfers what to do, here are a few suggestions:

Speak Up: Not in the mood to scoop up someone else’s wrappers or remaining artifacts from walking their dogs on the beach? Revel in your opportunity to bring it to his or her attention that they left someone behind. Garbage shaming can be a helpful reminder to avoid repeating the offense in the future.

Look Around: Are you busy eyeing the perfect spot to strategically set up your chairs around the multi-generation families, share house Millennials and the water’s edge? We may miss that crushed can peeking out of the sand or a rouge plastic fork gone missing from someone’s lunch. Take a second to toss it out and be a part of the solution not part of the problem.

Prepare: This brings us back to looking around. We are going to the beach to sun and surf, not to hunt for garbage, but if the opportunity presents itself, it is better to be prepared. Have a spare garbage bag to snag what you may find around you on the beach, or what you might simply step over on your walk to the parking lot. For our own consumption, maybe we can lesson the amount of plastic cutlery, napkins and containers we drag to the beach, or better yet not use disposable items at all.

Be Mindful: This is our beach, so if we can all work together it can be as beautiful in our future days to enjoy it. While everyone may not always be as careful, we can be mindful of the role we play in maintaining its most natural state as possible.

Educate: Taking the time to keep the conversation going is as important as taking action on the beach. Last summer was remarkable in the amount of surfers that were becoming ill, likely due to polluted run-off and garbage running into our oceans. Plastic products are not biodegradable, so they are forever killing our fish and littering our seas. Knowing when to clean your cars, maintain plants, tar driveways, recycle and trying to stay away from plastic products all together will bring awareness to others. While we cannot regulate the amount of people on our beaches, we can collectively keep them clean. Happy Summer!