Spring Break Beach Blues

Florida is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, making it a hot destination for college students during spring break. Of course, the extra influx of people is a great economic boost to the cities and surrounding towns, but it’s how these students treat the beaches that have made city officials try to deter as many people coming for spring break as possible.

photo by @neceeregis

The biggest problem happens once the party is over, there are miles and miles of trash left behind. Making it not only a costly endeavor for trash removal but it’s also a serious danger to the surrounding marine life.

The issue of spring breakers has gotten so bad that in some counties there have been laws created to only take effect during the season.

Like in Panama City, FL during the month of March there is a strict no alcohol on the beach and/or drinking while in public parking lots. This rule although beneficial to Panama City has instead turned away tourists and has prompted them to flood to other coastal cities.

It’s not just Florida who has seen a spring break issue amongst their beaches. In Port Aransas, TX during just one week the city cleaned up 30 tons of trash. To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent to 5 elephants made out of literal garbage.

Beaches have very few trash cans, to begin with, but even with the increase of extra bins, there is still the issue of leftover debris on the floor.

Volusia County has tried to tackle this issue by giving spring breakers who’ve been arrested or ticketed a choice. They could either pay the fines and/or spend time in jail, or they can clean up the beach. Of course, it has helped to some degree of the cleanup but it’s overall not a permanent solution.

Here’s what you can do as a responsible beach goer:

  1. Pick up your trash. The easiest thing you can do. When planning a beach day, think of bringing an extra bag to put all waste into an easier method of keeping track of where your garbage is going. Beaches can get pretty windy.
  2. Bring reusable bottles. To ensure you don’t leave anything behind, bring a reusable water bottle or pitcher for any beverages you bring. You’d be more inclined to take them back with you if you spent a little bit more than you would on a plastic water bottle.
  3. Bring a wasteless lunch. Everyone gets a little hungry while on the beach. To make sure you don’t end up making any unnecessary waste, think of bringing food in reusable containers. Such as Tupperware or reusable sandwich bags, it’s a simple practice and makes for an easier clean up when it’s time to go home.
  4. Pick up found trash. Even if you’re swimming in the water and find a plastic bag floating around or you notice leftover wrappers and bottles near where you’ve set up, pick it up. Be the savior to the local marine life and do your part.

Pensacola has created its own beach motto, “Leave Only Your Footprint Behind”. To make sure our beaches remain how nature intends them to be.

The bottom line is if we’re all more conscious of what we’re doing while on the beach, not just spring breakers, we can ensure a safer and cleaner beach experience for everyone.

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