More Visitors, More Trash

The town’s beaches may be one of its biggest tourist attractions, but the trash left behind by visitors paints a picture of a less valued resource.

And with a nearly perfect summer, that trash may be piling up more than in past years as residents and tourists have flocked to the beaches. Superintendent of Beaches Donald L. Hoffer said he has heard the complaints and is working with one resident who is looking to change that. “A couple of weeks ago [Assistant Beach Superintendent] Bruce Mogardo and I met with her and she complained about the trash in general and is trying to get the town to jump on the ‘no trash’ bandwagon,” he said.

Because it is the busiest beach, Mr. Hoffer said, Old Silver Beach tends to pile up trash faster and in larger quantities than others in town. It has particularly affected the dirt parking lot across the street from the beach, Mr. Hoffer said, although there is a trash barrel for beachgoers to dispose of their trash.

As a rule, he said, parking attendants are responsible for cleaning the parking lots in the morning while lifeguards handle the beach, but those efforts can be curtailed on a warm sunny day. On overcast periods or during inclement weather, he said, staff have more time to devote to removing trash.

As for this year, Mr. Hoffer was unsure whether more trash is being deposited on the beaches, though “I can say it has been very heavy. We get a lot of household trash next to our barrels.”

Those blue trash containers were chosen, Mr. Hoffer said, because they had small openings to prevent people from disposing of larger household items. “People still put big items and household trash near it,” he said. “We are finding a lot of trash there, especially on Monday morning, next to those barrels.”

Combating that, he said, is a chore every year, but the Department of Public Works is responsive to the beach department’s needs, picking up trash daily and multiple times at Old Silver Beach.

Although he did not have figures for this summer yet, Mr. Hoffer said, this past July 4 was much busier than last year. Overall, he said, “we’ve been busy. Yesterday [Sunday] and Saturday all our beaches were full, even Mill Road, which is usually the last to fill up,” he said.

 You have to realize at the beaches it is almost impossible to keep them clean when you put that many people on the beach for a day and many don’t have trash bags.

                                              Kevin Murphy 

Both Mark C. Cilfone, president of the Falmouth Village Association, and Kevin E. Murphy of the Woods Hole Business Association, said that business is up from recent years, but there has been no real issue with trash pick-up in their sections of town.

“I haven’t seen anything out of kilter in Woods Hole because of trash,” Mr. Murphy said, however he understood the beaches may be showing some of the effects of larger crowds.

“You have to realize at the beaches it is almost impossible to keep them clean when you put that many people on the beach for a day and many don’t have trash bags,” he said.

Part of the solution, he said, is simply in changing human nature and educating people to dispose of their trash properly.
But Mr. Hoffer is looking to another one that has proven effective in the past—having parking attendants hand a trash bag to each person who comes through their gates.

More than 10,000 bags have been ordered with the beach department logo on one side and the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, which is purchasing the bags as a donation to the town, on the other.

Jay Zavala, president of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, has facilitated that effort, working with both the beach department and bank officials to ensure the town’s beaches remain clean. That should be a priority, he said, because of the importance the beaches play in attracting tourists to the area.

This summer, he said, he has heard a sense of frustration and disappointment that there has been so much trash on the town’s beaches. “They’ve told me there is a little bit more trash than anticipated though they know we are trying to keep them clean,” he said.

He, too, attributed that to both the warm summer and a general increase in the number of people visiting the town. “When you have an increased volume of people there will be some folks who just don’t do the right thing,” Mr. Zavala said.

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