TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — Dozens of people from the Savannah community came out to enjoy the gorgeous weather at Tybee Beach Saturday morning.
However, it wasn’t a typical day at the beach.
These visitors were on a mission to keep the beach free of trash — especially plastic.
Saturday is the International Coastal Cleanup day, and Tybee hosted its own event near the Pier.
The coastal cleanup day was a joint effort from the University of Georgia (UGA) Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, Coca-Cola United, Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers and the Georgia River Network.
Me and my kids like to have fun, and you shouldn’t want where you have fun at to be trashy.”Valencia Hollis, beach cleanup volunteer
At least 100 volunteers armed with green buckets searched the beach for about two hours in the search for items that didn’t belong on the shores — from plastic bottles to left-behind kites and cigarette butts.
“The cigarette butts alone, the numbers are just staggering,” Tim Arnold of Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers said.
“We’ve picked up, that we’ve counted for the last two and a half years, over 300,000,” he told News 3.
The main goal of today’s cleanup event was to help the local community play an important role in a global effort to keep the coastlines free of garbage and plastic that can harm marine life.
“You see the trash getting into our wetlands, all along our beaches, and we’re finding those in organisms,” Luke Roberson, the adopted wetland coordinator for UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant said.
“They’re very, very small, so even these bits that we’re picking up today can break down into smaller bits and find their way into marine organisms,” he said.
Employees from Coca-Cola, which sponsors the Ocean Conservancy and the International Coastal Cleanup, were out on the beach with volunteers sporting T-shirts made of recycled plastic.
“The Coca-Cola World Without Waste program is trying to create a circular economy, so if something seems like it’s waste and it’s not, like a plastic bottle, we can collect those, chip them down, and turn them into thread to make garments like this one,” Rena Stricker, executive director for the Georgia River Network said as she gestured toward her Coke T-shirt.
“This is made out of three Dasani bottles. So, that’s pretty cool!” Stricker said.
Cleanup volunteers told News 3 that keeping trash off the beach where they and their families come to enjoy themselves is important to them.
“Me and my kids like to have fun, and you shouldn’t want where you have fun at to be trashy,” volunteer Valencia Hollis said.
“It’s something that you should want to do, because it’s your way of helping keep the environment clean, it’s your way of making a difference.”