Historically, July 5 has been known as the dirtiest beach day of the year, following Independence Day celebrations. At The Surfrider Foundation, this day has long been known as “Morning After Mess,” when volunteers remove incredible amounts of red and blue single-use plastic cups, food packaging waste, abandoned toys and clothing, fireworks and cigarette butts from beaches nationwide.
Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of residents and visitors are still expected to flock to San Diego’s beaches on July 4. As community beach cleanups remain suspended due to public health concerns, Surfrider San Diego has taken measures to ensure this important cleanup effort still takes place while ensuring everyone’s safety.
“We are calling upon our volunteer activist network to RSVP online and conduct individual cleanups at the local beaches, neighborhoods and parks of their choosing,” says Mitch Silverstein, chapter manager. “This year’s virtual cleanup takes place as part of Surfrider San Diego’s larger #SurfriderSoloCleanup campaign, which will run until we’re permitted to host public cleanups again.”
Last year’s Morning After Mess saw a turnout of nearly 800 volunteers. Together, they removed more than 3,900 pounds of trash from five beaches in only three hours. The “Morning After Mess” exemplifies the disastrous consequences that our reliance on wasteful, single-use plastic products wreaks upon our coastal environment. Without the collective volunteer effort, all this litter may have washed into the sea where it would add to the already critical pollution problem devastating the world’s oceans today.
“These cleanups are really important for everyone to come back out to the beach and see what a mess we leave behind,” says Roberta Reilly, beach cleanup coordinator. “That visual impacts the individual and really makes us think about how we treat our environment.”
Participants are encouraged to employ a reusable bag or bucket and gloves to cut down on single-use plastic waste. Any volunteer in need of these supplies - including trash grabbers - can email [email protected] to coordinate a curbside pickup on Friday, July 3 or the morning of Sunday, July 5.
The Surfrider Foundation San Diego has a handful of programs working to fight plastic pollution in San Diego. The Rise Above Plastics program has been a key player in introducing and passing single-use plastic and polystyrene ordinances across San Diego County. The program uses outreach, education and advocacy to cut down on single-use plastics and cigarette butts before they reach the coast.