Beach cleanup nets nearly a ton of trash

Nearly 2,000 pounds of trash was collected along beaches surrounding Monterey Bay during a post-Fourth of July cleanup event on Sunday, according to a marine conservation nonprofit organization.

Save Our Shores held its annual Star Spangled Beach Cleanup event where 182 volunteers removed 1,947 pounds of debris on beaches in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in two hours, nonprofit officials said.

Sunday’s event is the organization’s second largest cleanup so far this year, said Rachel Kippen, programs director at Save Our Shores.

This year’s total number was a slight increase from last year’s event when 320 volunteers picked up 1,894 pounds of trash that had gathered on 15 beaches, nonprofit officials said.

The dirtiest site this year was Cowell and Main beaches near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where 676 pounds of trash was removed, a significant increase compared to about 100 pounds collected at the same site last year, Kippen said.

Kippen speculated that the increase in trash at the beach could be due to more people coming from the hotter inland and mountain communities.

“I think the change in our weather is something we need to think about. We talk about the drought and how hot it’s been getting. There’s not really a winter anymore,” she said.

Another possible factor was that the holiday fell on a Saturday and many people had a three-day weekend, she said.

On Saturday, volunteers spoke with people at Cowell and Main beaches on the importance of cleaning up and handed out more than 1,000 trash bags in less than four hours with the hopes that less trash would be found the next day, she said.

The second most-littered location was Davenport Main Beach where 412 pounds of trash was found, nonprofit officials said.

Volunteers often found cigarette butts, fireworks, Styrofoam coolers and single-use grilling devices during the cleanup event, according to Kippen.

The organization reduced the number of beaches in the cleanup event by identifying hot spot locations through data gathered from previous collections and community input, Kippen said.

The nonprofit has also worked with city, county and state agencies to increase the number of trashcans and dumpsters at high-trafficked beaches during the holiday weekend, according to Kippen.