Fourth of July crowds, festivities leave Tybee Island overwhelmed with litter

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — The Fourth of July holiday weekend brought thousands of tourists and locals to Tybee Island to ring in the holiday.

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But the massive crowd and firework show also resulted in litter. 

Tim Arnold, a Tybee resident, manages Fight Dirty Tybee, the group that cleaned up the beach Monday morning.

“It offends a lot of people to have a beach that’s trashed — me included,” Arnold said.

The city is overwhelmed by the volume of trash on the beach, including cigarette butts, plastic bottles, straws, wrappers, bottle caps and beach toys left behind by beachgoers. Volunteers with Fight Dirty Tybee filled buckets with litter at a volume too large for Arnold to estimate.

“We’re just making it a poisonous, toxic environment by our sloppiness,” Arnold said. “We’re just asking people to be aware of that, think outside yourself, take it with you. It’s that simple.”

A lot of smaller pieces of trash add up to large mounds. Much of the litter on Monday, however, came from firework debris.

“It was very shocking to me that there were so many pieces of the artillery of the fireworks,” Lorette Henderson, a volunteer from Guyton, said. “It was all over the beach, I mean I just could not believe that. It gets you a little enraged when you really think about it because if volunteers weren’t out here cleaning it up, that would all stay there, that would all wash back out to our oceans.”

For Tybee locals, like Arnold, the beach can be a sacred place — and he wants to keep it that way. 

“If I go to church and I see trash all over the place and cigarette butts, I’m outraged,” he said. “I feel the same way about the beach. In fact, it’s worse. It gets out in the water, it kills pelicans. Everything that’s out there that doesn’t belong there that’s made of plastic harms marine life. It’s just that simple.”

Fight Dirty Tybee has weekly cleanups throughout the summer season, alternating between Sunday evenings at 6:30 and Monday mornings at 10:00.


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