Ocean Beach is known for its 4th of July revelry that sometimes gets a little spirited. A sort of “underground” tradition started some years ago when a lively, but mostly well-meaning group of young people assembled on the beach to have an all-out “marshmallow war” after the fireworks show. Well, the tradition continued this year and the morning after (July 5) revealed thousands of marshmallows on the beach near the main lifeguard tower. Sometimes having fun makes a mess.
You might think marshmallows are a harmless, biodegradable food product that if left alone would quickly decompose and dissolve in the water and sand on the beach. You would be wrong. Marshmallows are extremely sticky and rubbery and take a surprisingly long time to break down. If left on the sand, they heat up and become gooey “sand bombs” that stick to feet. They are also dangerous for animals that can’t tolerate the high concentration of sugar and sometimes get them stuck in their throats. And marshmallows weren’t the only trash left behind. The beach was littered with plastic bags, fireworks, cigarette butts, aluminum cans and plastic bottles too.
So the need for clean-up was clear and Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter rose to the challenge. They sponsored a clean-up on July 5 in OB and four other San Diego beach locations known to concentrate July 4th trash. Along with spreading the word about the clean-up, Surfrider was also on hand with gloves, buckets, trash bags and picker-uppers to make clean-up easy for the 132 volunteers who showed up at OB.
Volunteers including my mother and I worked for over 2 hours collecting the thousands of marshmallows and other pieces of trash. All totaled, the volunteers collected over 2000 lbs. of trash including almost 2000 cigarette butts! What a haul. Our efforts were successful but real success would be not finding one piece of trash on the beach.
July 4th is just one day. Trash collects on local beaches every day of the year which makes the work of Surfrider all the more important. I encourage all our readers and anyone who loves San Diego’s beaches to do anything they can to reduce the amount of trash that shows up on our beaches. Be a part of this important wheel of progress until the wheel no longer needs to turn. Thank you and thanks to all the volunteers who helped that day.
John Rogers, www.a-zsandiegobeaches.com
Francha Cavitt, photographer
Melanie Rogers, beach cleaner
Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter Website: http://sandiego.surfrider.org/