Every year, thousands of people descend on Lake Tahoe for the Fourth of July celebration, and every year without fail, they leave behind a huge mess.
Thankfully, there’s a group of dedicated volunteers just waiting to comb through the shorelines picking up trash. This year, 315 people volunteered for the annual Keep Tahoe Blue cleanup effort, an event organized by the League to Save Lake Tahoe.
Starting at 8 am on the 5th July, volunteers walked a total of 10-miles of shoreline at five beach locations around Lake Tahoe on Friday, according to chief strategy officer Jesse Patterson.
They picked up a total of 1,875 pounds of trash (compared to 1,473 pounds last year). That amount includes a total of 8,791 individual plastic pieces such as utensils, coffee cup lids, plastic wrappers, bottle caps, and straws and 5,458 cigarette butts.
“All that plastic never biodegrades,” Patterson said. “If it doesn’t get picked up, it stays at Lake Tahoe forever. People need to do better or be more aware of their impact.”
Volunteers weigh the amount of trash picked up and sort them into categories, so they can be recycled and disposed of properly. This data also helps them get an insight into what is being left behind and how frequently, so they know what items are most hazardous and how they can help prevent people from leaving them behind.
“The data that was collected the last 4 years by our volunteers was instrumental in passing the Polystyrene ban at the city of South Lake Tahoe,” said Marilee Movius, community engagement manager for the League to Save Lake Tahoe. “So now, straws and utensils are on request only and the sale of Styrofoam is not allowed in restaurants or retail like markets.”