Lining our beachfront are hundreds of blue cans speaking to our visitors, “Dump your trash here,” and the visitors are listening. They place trash in the cans, and when the cans are full, they stack trash around the cans, and sometimes, the trash is just left on the beach itself.
The behavior spills over to our streets with the attitude that someone will pick up after them, and for the most part, the city and park board do, at significant manpower and cost.
For Galveston to cultivate the reputation of a clean city, a culture shift is needed to end the daily cycle of trash pick-up in the morning and significant litter and trash accumulation through the day. Let’s start with the beach.
Envision a beach not lined with trash cans but where the expectation is made clear that you carry out what you carry in. Some things it should do:
• Send a message to visitors and citizens; “Do not dump your trash in Galveston.”
• Decrease the amount of waste handled by the city while also decreasing total waste by making visitors more discerning about the volume of materials they haul to the beach.
• Decrease operational cost, helping the park board meet its budget targets. Across the nation, communities are moving to pack-in, pack-out.
• End pollution caused by cans being tipped by nature during unexpected or short-notice high tide or high wind events. These events are becoming more frequent.
• Decrease equipment and truck traffic, helping to preserve our beaches and dunes.
• End the unsightly trash cans, the trash piled up next to them, and the wind-borne trash sourced from the trash cans.
• Separate Galveston’s brand, making it a can’t-trash destination instead of another Texas trash can beach city.
There will be some trash left on the beach, but those who leave it can be held accountable as litterers. Overall, the amount of trash and cost will go down and aesthetics and reputation of Galveston will improve.
As a resident, I want zero tolerance for the city’s contribution to beachfront pollution. A number of times a year, the beachfront is littered with tipped trash cans and their contents.
This is tied to the inability of the park board to pick up all cans ahead of unexpected or short-notice events. Sometimes, as a shortcut, cans are placed on the dunes. This keeps some cans from tipping but negatively impacts the dunes.
If the park board cannot get to all the cans all the time, with certainty, then the cans should be removed or the number of cans limited to a point where the park board can guarantee zero spills.
I ask the park board to consider options to remove or decrease the number of cans. The park board needs relief from their workload, and we need less trash and pollution.
Once we move to a can’t-trash mindset, the beach, and the city as a whole, will be a better and more beautiful place.