For many people visiting Lake Tahoe over Fourth of July weekend, it’s a time to enjoy beautiful summer days in front of Big Blue. For locals, it’s just one more weekend where their beaches get trashed.
On July 5th, the annual Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue Beach Cleanup cleaned up a 3,450 pounds of trash on five Lake Tahoe beaches. It was twice the haul they saw in 2021 and a staggering display of the disgusting habits of tourists in the region.
The annual event, organized by the League to Save Lake Tahoe, consisted of more than 300 volunteers, a dive team, and a beach cleaning robot to clean up the aftermath of the Independence Day party. The crew cleaned up glass, food wrappers, paper, plastics and, the biggest trash problem in Tahoe, cigarette butts. This year’s clean up collected more than 2,500 cigarette butts.
“What we saw today shows we need to come together and put in some effort to Keep Tahoe Blue,” said Tahoe Blue Crew leader Jeff Cowen. “The League’s cleanups are a great opportunity for me to show my kids, our visitors, and our communities what’s important to us, and to shine a light on what’s going on.”
Once good news from the clean-up was the little trash they found under the surface of Lake Tahoe during the event, which showed the success of the Clean Up the Lake’s historic removal of 468 pounds of trash on the lake. Today, they found only 45.
“It’s great to see that Clean Up The Lake’s work underwater and Keep Tahoe Blue’s work on land is making it harder and harder for litter to enter the lake,” said Zac Smith, Communication and Outreach Coordinator from Clean Up The Lake. “The impact is not just removing the trash that shouldn’t be there; it’s about driving awareness that we all can and must prevent litter before it gets into Lake Tahoe.”
Every July 5th since 2014, residents and visitors have picked up litter left in the sand while tabulating data on what they find and how much of it during the League’s annual cleanup event. The long-term dataset assembled from volunteers’ tallies shows a trend away from large heavy trash (coolers, lawn chairs, floaties), and toward smaller and lighter litter items – and many, many more of them.
A BIG shoutout to the people at Keep Tahoe Blue for their ongoing clean-up efforts on Lake Tahoe.