Spring Break leaves behind piles of trash on Gulf Coast beaches


The past two weeks of Spring Break have left piles of trash along local beaches, this despite the push to "Leave Only Your Footprints."

It's a campaign in Gulf Shores and in Orange Beach that's curbed the amount of trash - 30% less this season so far compared to last year's Spring Break, still the disregard for cleaning up after yourself is a problem.

Every evening at dawn Orange Beach and Gulf Shores send out crews to pick up whatever is left on the beach. Chairs, toys, towels and boogie boards. Both cities have placed close to 500 signs on all the beaches, condos, hotels and even talked to the stores that sell the plastic toys and boogie boards trying to get the message across but not everyone is listening.

Each day the beaches come up clear and clean of trash but the reality is that both cities still end up with dumpsters full of trash left behind. Jay Dempsey with Orange Beach Coastal Resources gave us a tour of all the dumpsters and showed us bags full of plastic items picked up over the last two week period.

The "Leave Only Your Footprints" campaign is in its 3rd year. In Orange Beach the city employs 20 people - 8 full time employees to get the job done.

Orange Beach spends up to a million dollars in taxpayer money to clean up after those who, well just don’t get it. "We've got a lot of visitors and we try and reach as many as we can during the education portion of our day, then we see more collection needed at night so one offsets the other," said Wade Stevens with the city's Coastal Resources division.

"When I grew up you would pick up after yourself you know. You didn’t leave garbage everywhere. You still have groups that do that but i think the younger generation they are just not taught to clean up after themselves," said Greg Hopkins a life time Orange Beach resident.

Both the mayors of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach both want what’s called the "Disney effect" giving the tourists the impression that these beaches are clean all the time.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off