Lake Tahoe Trashed by Fourth of July Revellers

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Cigarette butts are one of the most common items found and can contain toxins like heavy metals. Credit: Maggie Mayer

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. Although this year was a little different, the crowds were nowhere near as huge as normal, there was still a fair amount of trash left behind.

Thankfully, there’s a group of dedicated volunteers just waiting to comb through the shorelines picking up trash. This year, 235 people volunteered for the annual Keep Tahoe Blue cleanup effort, an event organized by the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

Between them, they removed just shy of 1,500 pounds of trash. This included:

  • food waste
  • food wrappers
  • cigarette butts
  • plastic pieces
    • bottle caps
    • straws and stirrers
    • styrofoam
  • face masks
Credit: Keep Tahoe Blue

Volunteers weigh the amount of trash picked up and sort them into categories to 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. Cigarette butts are one of the most common items found and can contain toxins like heavy metals.

“All that plastic never biodegrades. 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.”

– Volunteer

While the big stuff was largely gone, they collected a huge amount of micro trash. The smaller the pieces, the easier to avoid detection and make their way into the Lake. We know that microplastics are in the Lake, so it is important to remove them before they get there.

Previous 5th July cleanups have seen 500-lbs picked up in 2020, 1,875-lbs in 2019, and 1,596-lbs in 2018.

Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in North America. It is 1,645 feet deep, 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. It is the second deepest lake in America, next to Crater Lake in Oregon, and its shoreline is 75 miles long. It is known around the world for its famed water clarity, eliciting awe from millions of visitors each year.

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One thought on “Lake Tahoe Trashed by Fourth of July Revellers

  1. That is actually a lot less trash than previous years. Most locals forget my company, SkibumFamily Inc. cleaned up the beaches on July 5th for 22 years before The League. We averaged well over 6000lbs of garbage every year. I have lots of photos but can’t [post them here.

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