Residents and visitors alike flock to Coastal Virginia’s beaches each year to enjoy the ocean spray and feel the sand between their toes. But did you know that what we do at home and at play can have an impact on whether our coastal resources remain open for swimming, boating and fun on the water?
Between May and September, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) monitors the bacteria levels at beaches in an effort to protect the public from high levels of harmful bacteria. Pet and wildlife waste, sewage discharge from boats, sanitary sewer overflows and backed-up septic systems are often to blame, and VDH officials will issue a beach closure notice when bacteria levels are high. In addition, cigarette butt litter and trash contribute to a sandscape that’s a far cry from being “postcard perfect.”
The experts at askHRgreen.org encourage all beach-goers to practice the following simple steps to help keep our shorelines naturally beautiful:
Think Before You Pack: Instead of individually-packaged items or plastic sandwich bags, pack lunches and snacks in reusable containers. Small plastic food packaging items (like straws and wrappers) can easily be carried away on a breezy beach day, so avoid those altogether. “Just say no” to plastic bags and Styrofoam cups and coolers, and opt for reusable cloth bags and hard or soft insulated coolers for toting to the beach.
Carpool: A day at the beach is more fun with friends. Just be sure to carpool to get there, avoiding unnecessary emissions (and parking issues!).
Fill ’Er Up Before You Go: Opt for a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water, and fill it up from the tap before leaving home.
Get Involved: Consider participating in an organized beach cleanup event, like Clean the Bay Day or the Great American Cleanup. Or, organize your own at your favorite beach or park.
Leave No Trace Behind: At the end of your day at the beach, make sure you take all of your belongings with you—including your trash and recyclables to be disposed of properly. Always ensure no litter is left behind.
For additional information about protecting our beaches and local waterways and other green tips, just askHRgreen.org.