More Than 4,000 Pounds of Trash Were Left Behind on This Beloved California Beach After July 4 Celebrations

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jul 08, 2024

Every year, volunteers head to the beaches in San Deigo to clean up thousands of pounds of trash left behind by groups celebrating the Fourth of July.

This year, efforts were able to recover almost 4,000 pounds of trash from nine beaches around the city on Friday alone.

Clean up Began on Friday

On Friday morning, clean-up crews anticipate a busy day to remove beer cans, cigarette buns, and discarded fireworks from the beach.

Several glass and plastic bottles left on a beach with other garbage mixed in

Source: John Cameron/Unsplash

With 688 volunteers, teams were able to remove 3,906 pounds of trash, most of which they say were single-use items like plastics and tin cans that can easily become washed away into the ocean.

Thousand of Pounds Removed

On Fiesta Island, a beach that hosts thousands of partyers on Independence Day, crews cleaned up a whipping 1,320 pounds of trash.

A large trash can filled with litter and bottles surrounded with more bags and miscellaneous trash

Source: John Cameron/Unsplash

As well, the San Diego Estuary & OB Dog Beach removed 1,575 pounds left behind. These delicate areas play host to different plants and animals that can become easily killed by litter.

Holidays Create Recurring Trash Issues

Other big party holidays like Memorial Day Weekend bring in thousands of pounds of trash to outdoor areas.

Mountains seen behind Lake Shasta in California in the daytime.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

This year, more than 3,000 college students from UC Davis and the University of Oregon trashed a well-known spot on Shasta Lake. Due to the high levels of the water in the lake, officials still need to wait for the water to recede before they can begin removing the beer cans and cigarette butts from the natural habitat.

Several Beaches Cleaned in San Diego

All across California, wildlife habitats and outdoor recreational areas become trashed during the big party holidays.

A coke can, fishing net, and various broken garbage sits on a beach

Source: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

On Friday, clean-up crews were dispatched to Oceanside Breakwater Way, South Ponto, Moonlight Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Fiesta Island, San Deigo River Estuary & OB Dog Beach, OB Pier, and Imperial beach to remove waste.

Public Responsibility Could Be Improving

The Surfrider Foundation San Diego Beach Cleanup Coordinator, Gabriel Racca, noted that, “Many of our volunteers remarked that the beaches seemed cleaner than in previous years, which is a great sign. Despite that, we cannot lose sight of the fact that even one piece of trash on the beach is one piece too many. More than anything, we hope our beach cleanups inspire San Diegans to continue down the path of coastal stewardship, to continue lessening their reliance on single-use plastics and hold businesses and governments accountable for the plastic pollution that has no place in our communities, on our beaches or in our ocean.”

A photograph of a fence separating the Mexico and US side of Imperial Beach in San Diego, California

Source: Andrew Holbrooke/Corbis/Getty Images

Many public policymakers agree that personal responsibility for cleaning up after oneself begins at the smallest levels. When out at a park or beach for your next celebration, set an example by picking up just a few pieces of litter.


Litter Causes Deadly Effects on Wildlife

Along with the manpower needed to remove garbage from beaches and waterways, litter has a staggeringly negative effect on wildlife.

A turtle swimming in water next to a take out food container

Source: Joshua J. Cotton/Unsplash

It can easily kill small animals like birds and squirrels looking for an easy snack. As well, marine life can become tangled and trapped in various pieces of garbage floating through the water.


Many Items are Easily Recyclable

Part of the frustration that many community members share is that the garbage left behind is usually recyclable bottles and cans.

A single pop bottle sits on a sandy beach next to the ocean

Source: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

If organized correctly, people can haul away their litter with minimal effort and even get a small return by bringing items to a recycling depo.


July 4th Is a Big Day for Waste

Every year, partyers celebrating July 4 partake in the same activities, which usually include setting off fireworks and drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

A person holds a sparkler and a small American flag together

Source: Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash

The holiday is a big day for waste and for emergency departments. The high levels of alcohol consumption and heat stroke often force people to make terrible decisions.


Personal Responsibility

American culture does not put much emphasis on personal responsibility. Even in a public place, many people still litter with the understanding that someone else will clean it up.

A trash can overflowing with boxes, bottles, and trash bags

Source: John Cameron/Unsplash

Although usually true, some of the time, trash continues to compound until natural spaces become completely derelict.


Partying Irresponsibly

California officials hope to spread the message for next year that any outdoor partying should come with a certain level of individual responsibility.

A single plastic water bottle on the beach

Source: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

Whenever outside at a BBQ or get-together, try bringing a few extra trash bags and hand them out periodically. Just using a trash bag might make people more aware that they need to work together to keep public places clean and free from loose garbage.