Despite reminders for visitors to clean up, 163 tons of trash were left on Sarasota beaches.
| 8:21 a.m. July 5, 2017
Things aren’t always better in the morning light, as almost 100 volunteers found out Wednesday.
With an estimated 163 tons of trash left on Sarasota County beaches after the July 4 holiday, volunteers spent 115 hours total the morning of July 5 bagging up trash and removing it from the public beaches — and they were done by 8:30 a.m.
On Siesta Beach in particular, the site of Fourth of July fireworks that brought thousands to the key, volunteers turned out in force.
“I am always amazed at the disrespect that people have for the beach, and I like to keep it beautiful,” said Kris Tikson, a Siesta Key resident who was picking up trash.
“I saw the aftermath [of Memorial Day] and felt compelled to help.”
According to estimates by county officials, more than 48 tons of trash were left on county beaches on Memorial Day.
This Fourth of July, Siesta Key beaches alone accounted for 65 tons of trash.
Before the holiday, the county launched a public relations campaign reminding people to take their trash and belongings with them, and giving them the means to do it.
Volunteers handed out hundreds of yellow trash bags over the holiday weekend for people to collect their garbage, and beachgoers were reminded to “pack-in and pack-out” anything they brought to the beach.
“We saw how bad it was after Memorial Day and thought we could help,” said Renee Shattuck, a volunteer with Liberty Litter Cleanup and a Siesta Key resident.
“People did try.”
The county’s yellow garbage bags were piled all over Siesta Beach, and volunteers say some of the trash they picked up was already bagged, just waiting to be removed.
They picked up everything from tent frames to beer bottles, and chip bags to socks.
“Our hope is that with the public awareness that’s been created, it’s helping to decrease the amount of trash on the beaches,” said Wendi Crisp, program coordinator for Keep Sarasota Beautiful, which sponsors the Liberty Litter Cleanup.
Two volunteer groups were out on Siesta Beach the morning of July 5 — one organized by the county, the other by local business owners.
The Liberty Litter Cleanup is an annual event in its fourth year, hosted by Keep Sarasota Beautiful, which organizes volunteers to help clean all the county beaches after the Fourth of July holiday. And Crisp said the number of volunteers is increasing.
“As far as our pre-registration, our numbers were up this year for people interested in participating,” she said, adding that a number of community members also just showed up on July 5, ready to help.
And this year, Siesta Village business owners wanted to do their part as well.
The Beach Club, The Hub Baja Grill, and The Cottage on Siesta Key all partnered to organize volunteers to clean up at Siesta Beach accesses 3, 5 and 9.
Cindy Turner, Siesta Beach manager, said despite the county’s communication efforts and the help of volunteers, it’s still disturbing, if perhaps inevitable, to see so much garbage on the beach.
“Honestly I don’t know that there’s any stopping it, because I can honestly say we did everything we could on the front end,” Turner said.
“So, unfortunately, I think this is the nature of part of what we’re going to see.”