MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Trash should be picked up off the beach everyday, but Saturday, thousands of people across the country will gather to keep their local beaches clean.
Beach Sweeps are taking place up and down the Grand Strand. From North Myrtle Beach to Pawleys Island, there is a clean-up taking place at nearly every beach.
Myrtle Beach State Park is known for being extra clean, thanks in part to its park rangers and environmentally conscious visitors. Even though rangers pride themselves on the cleanliness of the beach, a surprising amount of trash is picked up each year on this day, and one specific type of trash stands out.
“Cigarettes for my entire 28 year career are number one,” park ranger Ann Wilson said. “One year we picked up 25,000 in just two to three hours.”
She said cigarette butts are small, so people tend to think leaving them in the sand is no big deal.
“A lot of people just think the beach is an ashtray and it’s not,” Wilson said.
In fact, she said the small pieces of trash can be the most detrimental.
“A lot of people focus on the big stuff, but all the really small stuff, all the small plastics and foam and Styrofoam can really be eaten by a lot of animals too,” Wilson said. “It all matters and it all needs to be picked up really consistently.”
Wilson said a lot of people wonder why they should pick up other people’s trash.
“A lot of people might ask, ‘well, I didn’t litter, so why should I pick up somebody else’s trash?’ Wilson said. “Well, if we don’t do it, who will?”
But if we do not pick it up, Wilson says she knows who will.
“Who will is really a lot of our marine animals,” Wilson said. “The loggerhead sea turtle, the bottlenose dolphin, little fish. It’s really up to us to make a difference.”
Picking up trash saves animals’ lives, but it also helps keep tourists and residents coming back to the beach.
“If you go to a beach that’s consistently trash and there’s just lots of litter, it’s not pleasant to look at,” Wilson said. “Obviously very unhealthy for animals, but people don’t wanna look at that either, and so you’re not gonna go there.”
It only takes a second to do the right thing. Horry County makes it easy for beachgoers by having trash and recycling bins at nearly every beach entrance point.
“It’s so easy,” Wilson said. “It really is just so easy.”
Beach Sweep is the perfect day to get out and do the right thing, but Wilson said it should not be the only day you do it.
“Beach Sweep really needs to be not just a third Saturday in September. It’s an everyday event,” Wilson said.
Myrtle Beach State Park’s Beach Sweep begins Saturday at 9 a.m. The rangers will be meeting the community at the fishing pier.