Cat Graham spent her Fourth of July afternoon walking the length of Seabright Beach soaking up the yellow summer rays, picking up bits of trash and handing out gray-colored trash and recycle bags to tourists.
She was volunteering for the non-profit group Save Our Shores’ annual Patriotic Pollution Prevention event—a preventative effort to reduce the waste on Santa Cruz beaches by handing out plastic garbage bags to the thousands of holiday beach goers.
Graham, a local Santa Cruz mom, says that she hates picking up after people but finds herself cleaning up garbage during her daily walk at Seabright. She says that the Fourth of July effort is better than a typical beach cleanup because it makes people aware at the importance of picking up after themselves.
“It’s about being proactive and raising people’s awareness,” she said.
Standing behind a table marked Save Our Shores waited sanctuary steward volunteer Jen Block, who handed out trash and recycle bags to beach goers as they passed through the beach’s entrance.
Block, who has been a volunteer at Save Our Shores since February of last year, endured the beating sun for four hours as she passed out the bags and gave information about keeping the beach clean to flocking tourists.
“Everyone likes to enjoy the beach, and we’re just trying to say: leave it beautiful and nice when you leave,” said Block, “People don’t always think when their packing up their stuff to go to the beach to bring a trash bag.”
Save Our Shores volunteers carried away 3,000 pounds of garbage after last year’s 4th of July celebrations, said Block, and they hope to reduce that number by influencing beach goers to pack their own trash and take it with them after they leave.
“This number was higher before we started doing Pollution Prevention on the 4th,” said Block, adding “But it doesn’t have to be the 4th of July to clean up after yourself.”
The Patriotic Pollution Prevention event was held not only at Seabright beach, but at many of the other Santa Cruz beaches as well, including Rio Del Mar, Morgan Lake, Twin Lakes, Main and Cowell. The non-profit also handed out bags at Monterey Municipal Beach.
Following the preventative efforts, Save Our Shores is holding the Star Spangled Beach Cleanup on July 5. The cleanup beginning at 8 AM aims to pick up the garbage that was left behind by the 4th of July visitors and parties.