Visitors reminded to ‘pack in, pack out’ their trash
To the record numbers of beachgoers descending on Los Angeles County’s iconic beaches, the Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH) has a message regarding your trash: pack in, pack out.
Since late May, nearly 8 million people have visited the beach—a 60% increase over the same time last year. While there are many trash barrels on the beach, the extra 3 million visitors mean those barrels are filling up and overflowing quicker than ever, straining DBH’s already-overextended resources. Most of DBH’s beach maintenance crews are assigned to clean and sanitize the County’s 52 beach restroom facilities along the coast as often as six times per day due to COVID-19, leaving fewer resources to address the increasing amount of beach trash.
Uncontained trash can end up in the ocean, where it can kill marine life. Overflowing trash bins also attract seagulls, whose droppings can contain harmful bacteria and contaminate the water.
“In 2019, our crews picked up more than 91 tons of trash over the Fourth of July weekend,” said DBH Director Gary Jones. “I encourage beachgoers to pack in and pack out—take their trash home with them—for the rest of the summer to preserve public health and the health of our beaches and the ocean.”
It’s not only improperly discarded beverage containers, pizza boxes and food scraps that are polluting the beach. DBH crews are increasingly seeing the aftermath of illegal, uncontained fires on the sand.
With the removal of the DBH fire pits at Dockweiler State Beach due to COVID-19, some beachgoers are building illegal fires and using personal fire pits and grills, which also are not allowed on DBH-managed beaches or in beach parking lots. Debris from illegal fires is not only toxic to marine life; it is also difficult to clean up, especially smoldering fires buried in the sand. These unseen hazards also pose high risks of serious burns and other injuries to unsuspecting beachgoers.
In addition to bringing their trash home and refraining from setting illegal fires, beachgoers should also remember to bring their face coverings—which must be worn when out of the water and around other people—and refrain from meeting with people outside their household, per the current public health guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.
For kid-friendly educational resources about the dangers of beach trash, visit beaches.lacounty.gov/postercontest.