By: Asma Mahdi
On Friday night, many of us from coast to coast will watch spectacular fireworks takeover starry skies with brightly colored chrysanthemum bursts of red, white, and blue. It’s the Fourth of July – a day for friends and families to rejoice in our nation’s independence and jump into summertime festivities. It’s often an afterthought, but after the bursts of lights cease and the crowd clears, who’s going to clean-up the mess?
The morning after a fireworks display, not surprisingly, is a dirty day at the beach. Pieces of litter can easily be traced back to activities from the day before with a noticeable increase in firework debris along the coastline. You can find spent plastic shells, tubes, wings, and other small remnants in pockets where fireworks launched just a day before. These plastic pieces, especially hard plastics, are a potential human health hazard, with a risk of injury, and can be easily mistaken for food by marine animals, especially birds.
There are simple steps we can all take to prevent this debris from entering the ocean. If you plan to celebrate this Fourth of July with fireworks, keep the “land of the free,” free of debris:
- Most importantly, be safe and make sure it is legal to use fireworks in your state. Check this listing at USA.gov to see your state’s firework regulation laws. Local regulations vary, so be sure to check those out, too.
- Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to learn how to properly and safely handle and dispose of used fireworks.
- Volunteer for a beach cleanup after the Fourth of July to help remove debris left behind.
There are several cleanups events nationwide. Participate in one of these post-celebration beach cleanups or find a cleanup near your region:
Northern California: Host: Save our Shores Various sites in Santa Cruz and Monterey County Friday, July 4th (noon – 4pm), and Saturday, July 5 (8am – 10am)
Southern California: Host: Heal the Bay Manhattan Beach Saturday, July 19, 10am – noon
Hawaii: Host: ProjectAware Magic Island Beach Cleanup Saturday, July 5, 8am – noon
Great Lakes: Host: Alliance for the Great Lakes Various locations at times, click link for more info Saturday, July 5
New Hampshire: Host: Blue Ocean Society Jenness Beach Wed, July 9, 6:30 PM
Massachusetts: Host: Surfride Foundation, MassachusettsChristian A Herter Park Sat, July 12, 2:30pm – 4:30pm
Florida: Host: City of Maderia Beach Archibald Park Saturday, July 5, 8am – 11am
Florida: Host: Keepers of the Coast Various locations Saturday, July 5, 5pm – 7pm