BREVARD COUNTY — Lately, residents and visitors have been enjoying the re-opened beaches just a little too much because Keep Brevard Beautiful staff reported an increase in trash left behind.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, despite rain, beachgoers still flocked to the beach and left 23,560 pounds worth of trash in Cocoa Beach, according to Bryan Bobbitt, executive director of KBB.
“Since the beaches have re-opened, we’ve seen a massive increase in litter on the beach and trash cans on the beach,” Mr. Bobbitt said. “It’s more than just a blight, it’s an environmental issue.”
Trash that ends up in the water can kill sea life, birds and marine mammals, Mr. Bobbitt noted. Plastic bags that end up in the ocean may resemble jellyfish, a favorite food to sea turtles.
Each morning, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society sends staff to walk along the beach and marks nests, which beachgoers have so far respected.
“Anything that anyone can do to take ownership of that trash, pack it up, take it home with them, properly dispose of it, recycle it if they can,” Mr. Bobbitt said, “it’s not only better for the environment but it makes things easier on our crews.”
Keep Brevard Beautiful has a contract to clean up the county’s beaches daily. Normally, volunteers are invited to join on cleanups but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit has been unable to host any public events.
During the first weekend of publically re-opening beaches on May 1, Mr. Bobbitt said the KBB crew picked up 297-trash bags worth of litter, approximately 11,880 pounds of trash in Cocoa Beach.
It was a major increase from the 78 bags, approximately 3,120 pounds of litter - that was picked up the weekend prior.
The city of Cocoa Beach has since increased its police presence and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has sent out a few officers on patrol from what KBB employees have seen.
The most common item picked up on the beach was glass, something that is not even permitted on beaches.
Other picked up trash items included cans, dirty diapers, straws, Styrofoam, broken tents and beach chairs, beach toys, cigarette butts, as well as boogie boards left behind.
“It’s increasing on a pretty regular basis,” Mr. Bobbitt said. “We’re seeing a majority of visitors but there are a large number of people coming from Orlando to visit our beaches.”
As a nonprofit organization, Keep Brevard Beautiful aims to educate the public about litter control, recycling, environmental programs and sustainability.
For more information, visit www.keepbrevardbeautiful.org.