Surfrider: Significant Decrease in Trash on Beach After July 4th – Partly Due to Curtailed Marshmallow War in OB

by on July 7, 2014 · 16 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

The San Diego Surfrider, other environmental groups and all the volunteers who massed the day after July 4th to do the beach clean-up found a huge drop in the trash on the beach.  A spokesperson stated that there was a “significant decrease in the amount of trash collected this year compared to the last few  years.”

The group attributed part of the this to the curtailment of this year’s OB Marshmallow War.

In a press release from Surfrider San Diego, they announced that nearly 650 people gathered at 4 beach sites on July 5th as volunteers for the massive annual clean-up effort, led by Surfrider. By midday, they reported that a total of 1,410 pounds of trash and 326 pounds of recycling had been collected.

Called the “Morning After Mess”, the effort recovered 489 plastic bags, 983 pieces of styrofoam and 14,796 cigarette butts.

In contrast, in 2012, there were around 500 volunteers and “By midday, Surfrider volunteers had recovered 2,607 pounds of trash and 191 pounds of recycling which otherwise would have been washed into the sea.” And remarkably, 3/4’s of 2012 trash was found on OB’s beaches.  So, two years, less volunteers, and much more trash – and interestingly, less recycling.

For this years results, San Diego County Chapter Manager, Haley Haggerstone, said:

“We are incredibly pleased with the number of volunteers who came out this morning to help clean the beaches after the busy holiday.

We are also pleasantly surprised with the amount of trash that was collected.

There was a significant decrease in the amount of trash collected this year when compared to the last few years. This is partially due to the cancellation of the annual marshmallow fight in Ocean Beach.”

Even though Haggerstone used the word “cancellation”, as it was banned by the OB Town Council, it did occur, but in much, much milder form – and only a mere shadow of its former self, thankfully.

Four beaches had been chosen for the clean-up due to the high concentration of beachgoers and notorious reputations for post-Fourth of July trash; Ocean Beach Pier, Belmont Park in Mission Beach, Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach and the Oceanside Pier.

Along with Surfrider,  I Love a Clean San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper were a couple of the major organizations involved. According to their press release:

Few holidays generate more trash on San Diego County beaches than the Fourth of July. Sadly, much of this litter is made up of plastic, which exacerbates an already critical pollution problem devastating marine life in the world’s oceans.

 Throughout the year, the Surfrider Foundation works hard to prevent pollution from becoming part of the ‘Morning After Mess.’ Through successful programs like Rise Above Plastics and Hold Onto Your Butt, the organization uses education, outreach, and advocacy to reduce the amount of single-use plastics and cigarette butts along our coast.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Aging Hippie July 7, 2014 at 9:59 am

I’ll take that as half an apology.


Frank Gormlie July 7, 2014 at 10:10 am

AH – What the hell are you doing? Why are you keeping at this? I’m not apologizing to you for anything. If you cannot curtail your ever-present snarkiness, your comments will need moderation on an individual basis.


Aging Hippie July 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

Dude, you changed your stance, and I have proof. All I did was agree with you, and every mean-spirited troll on this board came after me with knives out, so then you reversed yourself and joined them. I don’t deserve this kind of treatment, and I’m not going to just bend over and take it.


SaneVoice July 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

You deserve every ounce of vitriol you’ve received on here. You post your endless rants about how the Mallow-Out campaign was going to turn into a violent riot and when it didn’t turn out anything like your predictions, you twist your own words around. You insult Frank and just about every other person posting on here and then whine that you’re being attacked. If anyone should be apologizing, it should be you to Frank and the rest of OB.


Aging Hippie July 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

Editor, moderate this personal attack.


Seth July 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm

You are tedious, homie. Find another hobby or maybe just let it go.


Frank Gormlie July 7, 2014 at 11:29 am

The OB Rag and I did not change our stance. It’s all about working within a coalition for the better good. It’s true I didn’t like the way they went about it, but the OBTC showed some guts and took the bull by the horns (the MM controversy), and so even though we had different ideas, we supported the general stance from the community: ‘enough’s enough’.


editordude July 7, 2014 at 10:12 am

According to Surfrider, here are the results from the OB clean-up: Ocean Beach Pier
198 volunteers; 4568 cigarette butts, 183 plastic bags, 377 styrofoam pieces, 621lbs trash
78lbs recycling. Most unusual item(s): marshmallows, underwear, salt and pepper shakers


OB Wood July 7, 2014 at 10:22 am

I picked up at least 200 cigarette butts in a half-block radius on Saturday morning before giving up on counting them. A family who was picking up trash near me said they saw a guy smoking a cigarette walk by and drop a butt on the sidewalk right in front of them.

Come on, smokers. Have some class.


Frank Gormlie July 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

On a different aspect of July 4th: the traffic afterwards. We received this email from “Joe” :

the traffic on west point loma and sunset cliffs was at a complete standstill from 9 to 11 on july 4th

not one policeman at any intersection, which seems to me to be common sense with several of those intersections being 3 way merges. it was like year one of coachella out there.

laughably, the only city crew i saw was two guys arguing at a signal box right by the freeway

with all the compliments to city services for the la jolla and downtown fireworks, it seems odd that traffic management was completely absent leaving your entire out of town audience stranded for hours after the event

no mention on ob rag anywhere, is that because only residents circulate there and the traffic is a cost of doing business if you want to come in? its a fair answer if thats the answer, but generally people take the opposite view, we should be organized so people come back with confidence



Frank Gormlie July 7, 2014 at 11:31 am

“Joe” here does raise an interesting point: why weren’t there police directing traffic after the fireworks? People were stuck for hours – as they are every year. But why not put some community law enforcement volunteers to directing cars through intersections right after?


Frank Gormlie July 7, 2014 at 11:36 am

Here’s another suggestion, from Chris:

Hi Frank,

I think it would be great to organize a bunch of volunteers to go out and collect donations (ie. $5/person) a few days before July 4, and on July 4, which will go to hiring people in need to clean up the night of July 4 and early July 5. We could pay them by the number of garbage bags full of marshmallows (we could hand out the standard bag size to them ahead of time) they collected after the event. For example, we could pay them $10-25/large garbage bag full of dirty marshmallows collected after. Others we could pay $10/hr for about 5 hours to clean up the beach the next day, and to scrape off the hardened mallows on the pavement, sweeping the street etc.
Think of how this would benefit the community! It would help those in need of jobs and have everyone working together to keep everyone happy (the mallow lovers and the businesses on Newport etc).


Gail Powell July 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I had to laugh when one perplexed clean-up volunteer came up to me at the Day After table and asked me what to do? She said that she found a huge cache of old marshmallows and wants to pick them up but couldn’t. I asked her why? It was because a harem of homeless campers were sleeping around a fire pit and when she went in with her grabber to grab the marshmallows, the sleepy group growled and scared her off. Later on, after the urban visitors dispersed, we went back and filled up half a shopping bag full of half burned marshmallows


obracer July 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

“”urban visitors” you mean 18-45 white males ?


obd9 July 8, 2014 at 10:30 am

There were at least nine arrests in OB on July 4th, including two assaults and one rape. It would be interesting to know how that compares to last year.


want2surf July 9, 2014 at 5:32 am

on a positive note:
I encourage everyone to contribute, support and/or join Surfrider:


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