July 5th, 6 a.m. I am arriving at the beach in Cayucos. My boss, the Rangers for San Luis Obispo County and the seagulls are all out of bed.
In San Luis Obispo there are two places that allow fireworks: Pismo Beach and Cayucos.
Our goal was to clean up Cayucos Beach.
Unloading the car of orange buckets, bags and trash grabbers was my coffee. I am an intern for ECOSLO and volunteered to do this. To wake up. To commit. Unpaid but more than willing.
Looking at the beach it seemed relatively clean. Even a local came out and told me each year it looks better. But, this was during a high-tide and he didn’t check the pier.
This photo was taken near the end of the pier. It was like this starting from the middle up till the end.
All that material is leftover firework debris from the 4th of July. Paper, burnt pieces and plastic cases.
Sweeping the pier was the best method but there are still large gaps trash falls through.
Then after the tide dropped more debris washed up along the shore.
I walked up to a group of volunteers and thought they were picking up coconut shells.
Those brown pieces in the photo left are not some shell or pieces of coconut.
A volunteer told me they were professional fireworks. Then I saw a label on one. They were in a line down the beach from the ocean pushed them to shore.
This bag was about 20 pounds. I put that rock up to the the side of it for comparison. The photo does not do it justice. That bag is only filled with firework casings.
This is not to bash 4th of July. This is to make people aware so we can create a solution together.
This was my first 4th of July in two years because I have left the past summers for traveling. I forgot how much I loved this holiday. The way people come together to share food and watch beautiful fireworks. Locals even told me the best way to view the fireworks is to paddle out at the pier in Cayucos and watch them from the ocean.
Why you should attend the 5th of July next year:
This event brings more people together. Families, friends and kids came out that morning all to clean up the beach. To keep the ocean and environment clean.
Taking photos is hard when you just want to help and make the difference.
Volunteers worked from 7–11 a.m. cleaning up the pier and the whole stretch of beach. Still debris falls between the planks and blows away. The tide even came in overnight scattering debris into kelp and the shoreline.
Over 200 pounds of debris was collected. There is no telling how much of it got swept up by the wind or stayed in the ocean. But, one thing we could tell is that everyone coming together can really make a difference. Which is why the firework show should still go on but there has to be a soltuion to the mess after this.