NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion N Palm Beach CountyJuno Beach


Volunteers pick up aftermath of July Fourth trash

Posted at 3:01 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 05:27:50-04

Most people are probably recovering from eating too much barbeque on July Fourth or staying up too late watching fireworks.

But right now, the beaches are recovering from excess trash being dumped over the holiday.

"(We) only cleaned less than a mile stretch of beach in less than an hour and we were able to take up all of this trash," said Demi Fox, the conservation coordinator for Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

On Wednesday morning, volunteers hit the sand around Jupiter and Juno beaches, picking up the aftermath of Fourth of July.

If volunteers didn't get the trash off the beaches, endangered sea turtles and other animals would be mistaking this for food.

"We had a lot of fireworks debris that we found on the beach, which we kind of expected for today," said Fox.

Beer bottles, caps, cigarette butts, fishing line and various types of plastic items were sorted into piles.

Some trash appeared to come from the same beach party.

"We found these all sitting in a bag on the sand," said Fox. "So maybe they forgot to pick it up?"

Local mother Tyler Shernoff and her kids were visiting the turtle yard at the center, but we pulled them over to get their reaction on the pile of trash.

"What do you think if the animals ate that stuff? Would it feel good in their belly?" she asked one of her kids.

She says the fireworks are the most eye-opening.

"How would they know that that's not seaweed or something? That's really kind of depressing," said Shernoff.

We also brought over kids from a local surf camp visiting the center. They were just as shocked.

"I think it's terrible that there's a lot more and this is just a tiny portion of it," said one girl.

"People need to start thinking about somebody besides themselves," said another.

The clean ups are more crucial than ever right now.

"Many animals on the beach would try to eat this and think it's food," said Fox. "Especially sea birds. They have a tendency to pick anything that's brightly colored like these bottle caps and feed it to their young."

It's the height of sea turtle nesting season in Palm Beach County, one of the world's most dense nesting grounds for Loggerhead turtles.

"We wanted to be sure that the beaches are clear for the nesting females and for the hatchlings that are hatching out of the nests," said Fox. "Anything can be an obstacle in the sand for the hatchlings, so we're just making sure they have a clear and sand free path to the ocean."

That's why volunteers hope this week's haul will make people think twice about litter.

"One plastic bottle can turn into many pieces out in the ocean. It's really important we get that stuff off the beach," said Fox. "No matter where you are and what you're doing, you can contribute to our environmental sustainability."

The center recently teamed up with a U.S.-based company called TerraCycle for a hard plastics recycling program. All of the beach plastic is turned over to the program, which processes it and repurposes the plastic into shampoo bottles.

Loggerhead runs monthly beach clean ups. They plan to go back out next week for another clean up on July 15 at 8:30 a.m.

Click here to volunteer or learn how to get involved.

So far this year, Project Shield -- the beach pollution program at Loggerhead Marinelife Center -- has already picked up over 1,200 pounds of debris from the sand in north Palm Beach County.