How Spring Break Contributes to Beach Pollution and What We Can Do

Lauren Summers
Staff Writer

3.15.18_Features_Lauren Summers_polluted beaches_flickr_Hillary Daniels.jpg

PC: Hillary Daniels/Flickr

For many college students, spring break is a time to kick back and relax after a stressful first half of a semester. During the month of March, popular cities like Miami, Panama City Beach, Myrtle Beach and more see a large amount of tourism from college students going to celebrate their break. Although the flock of spring breakers to these beaches brings in great revenue to these cities, there is a downside that comes with the partying on these shores. Spring break, for many of these cities, means trashed beaches, littered with empty bottles of alcohol, cigarettes and other various items left behind.

According to USA Today College, 40 percent of college students travel to beaches over spring break, spending $1 billion annually on trips that are often “rife with alcohol and drugs.” During this time, cities see an increase of litter on the beaches. Between the mix of alcohol and drug use, it is often overlooked amongst spring break goers that these beaches are being polluted.

USA Today College also reported that in February of 2016, Miami launched a “Keep Miami Beach Clean” campaign to help stop the spring break litter. This campaign even goes as far as letting spring break goers know they will be fined if they leave litter behind on beaches, marinas, piers or docks.

Trash left behind on beaches can disrupt wildlife on the shore and in the ocean. While it may be easier to pick up pollution left on the beach, once swept out into the ocean, trash becomes harder to clean up. Pollution like this can affect animals like sea turtles, fish and birds that mistake things like cigarette butts and plastic for food.

In an IDS News report, after a beach party in March 2017, on Fort Lauderdale Beach, 850 pounds was reported being picked up by an ocean clean up crew. This included things like tarps and glass bottles. Due to this, many beaches have banned “coolers, tents and alcohol” on the beaches in an effort to cut back on trash.

When speaking to a student from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Crystal Hogue, she described her spring break trip to Miami one year, in which the beach, she said, was “pretty trashed, definitely a lot of stuff [like] Hennessy bottles, but it wasn’t anything a group of people couldn’t clean up.”

It is important for college students or any beach goer to keep in mind, however, that they should clean up after themselves after visiting beaches. Another North Carolina A&T student who has been to Miami for spring break, Nailah Griffin, said, “I wouldn’t fully hold college students, as a whole, accountable because it’s more than just college students that are there.” Griffin also pointed out that some people stayed behind to help clean up the beach after parties ended each day.

There are many ways students and beach goers can keep beaches clean over spring break. Although certain beaches have banned alcohol on the sand due to spring break litter, people who decide to bring bottles can start by bringing personal trash bags with them on the beach to throw their items away after they are done.

Another way to prevent beach litter is something as simple as remembering if you brought it out to the beach with you, to take it back along with you when you leave the beach.

Spring break is a time when college students travel to certain cities to let loose and take in the beauty of the beaches, but it’s important to remember if trash is constantly left behind, these beaches like Miami or Panama City won’t look as beautiful anymore.



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  1. Going Green: Spring Break Edition – UAlbany 378
  2. Going Green on Spring Break - GREATDANES GOGREEN

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