Trash is a big problem, and we take it especially seriously here on the Isle of Palms. It’s a particular issue after big summer beach holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
After all, trash left on the beach goes straight into the ocean and thus right into countless species of innocent wildlife.
Beach trash, especially plastic, can cause dire problems for fish and birds, not to mention our beloved sea turtles like the loggerhead. Just check out that viral video of the poor turtle who had a plastic drinking straw shoved all the way up his nose, and the kind people trying to remove it. It will make you think twice next time you grab that plastic straw, and so easily discard it.
As I’ve blogged about before, locals here on the Isle of Palms have banded together to form the Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew, doing regular beach cleanups on the IOP. They happen every Monday evening during peak summer months, and monthly the rest of the year.
Not only does this intrepid band of volunteers help clean the beach of trash, it also documents it.
There’s an app for that
Back in 2017, a new app launched that helps keep track of trash – where it’s found and what makes it up. Called the Citizen Science App, it’s a collaborative effort of the SC Aquarium and the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. Everyone is encouraged to use it and take part in efforts to curb trash, especially on our beaches.
It includes a Litter-Free Digital Journal. You can classify the type of trash – plastic, glass, fishing gear, paper, Styrofoam, etc., include a note, even post a picture. The more information and detail, the better. For example, if it’s a single-use plastic bag or Styrofoam cup with a business name on it, make note of the name.
The data provided by the app is used when formulating legislation to help curb trash and litter. Read more here.
Last summer during a period of just 11 weeks, the IOP Cleanup Crew logged more than 23,000 individual pieces of trash. In one stretch of six blocks around Front Beach, they counted 8,000 cigarette butts. That’s a whoppijng one-third of all trash recorded and tracked. Yuck!
The IOP Takes on Beach Trash, Bigtime
In good news for our planet, the Isle of Palms passed a tough new ordinance this week in an effort to keep our beaches free of some of the worst kinds of trash. It had passed unanimously (9-0) last month on its first reading.
Here are some of the details of the new anti-trash ordinance:
- Law takes effect January 1st, 2020.
- As of that date, you can no longer bring these single-use items to the beach: single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, polystyrene containers including cups and coolers, and balloons.
- Anyone bringing these to the beach on or after January 1st will face a fine of $100.
- Read more from Live 5 News.
The Isle of Palms has led in the fight against beach trash. It was the first municipality in the state of South Carolina to enact a single-use plastic bag ban in shops and stores in the town. This latest ordinance by the IOP takes the ban much further, concerning what may be brought out onto the beach itself.
Many other municipalities followed suit on the plastic bag ban, including Hilton Head (actually all of Beaufort County), Folly Beach, Surfside Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Arcadia Lakes near Columbia, Mount Pleasant and Charleston. Hopefully the tide will continue.
So please do help fight beach trash when you see it. There are trash cans and recycling bins at beach access points all over the Isle of Palms.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger