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Volunteers Clean Beaches After July Fourth Parties

Volunteers clean up trash at Ocean Beach, July 5, 2019.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Volunteers clean up trash at Ocean Beach, July 5, 2019.

It’s as certain as the "oohs" and "ahs" at Independence Day fireworks shows. Many of the revelers leave behind their trash on San Diego beaches.

After celebrating on July Fourth, Richard Cohen joined hundreds of volunteers to help clean up. He told KPBS he had an idea why people don’t clean up after themselves.

“They have a sense of entitlement instead of realizing that we’re just one small tiny bit of a giant organism trying to keep this planet in the right direction," Cohen said.

Cohen has volunteered for the annual "Morning After Mess" cleanup for seven years now, and despite some folks still not getting the message, he’s also noticed improvement over the years.

Video by L. Matthew Bowler

“The beach is pretty darn clean compared to previous years — I’m impressed. So hopefully people are getting the idea to clean up after themselves," he said.

The Surfrider Foundation organizes the yearly cleanup. The foundation’s Roger Kube said he’s seen the same positive change.

“Over the last decade, we have seen a trend in less trash and I think that has to do with one, the booze ban, and two, with the community becoming more conscious," Kube said.

The cleanup covers five different spots: the Ocean Beach Pier, the nearby Dog Beach, Belmont Park at Mission Beach, the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach and the Oceanside Pier.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Beach cleanup locations are shown in this undated map.

Results aren’t in yet for this year, but last year, between 600 and 700 volunteers picked up between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of trash.

Kube said there are easy things everyone can do to keep those numbers moving in the right direction.

“Be conscious of your footprint essentially because whatever you leave on this beach, a lot of it ends up in the ocean if we don’t get here in time to clean it up ... Let’s replace those single-use disposable products with reusables. That way you’re hauling out what you’re hauling in," he said.

Richard Cohen surfs these waves. He said helping to clean up is a good way to give back and get back on his feet after a big party.

“I just figured, what a good way to get rid of a hangover, taking care of mother ocean and the beach,” Cohen said.

By Reporter John Carroll

Hundreds of volunteers take to San Diego County beaches every July 5th to clean up trash from Fourth of July revelers.

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