So this year we experienced our first 4th of July in Miami Beach (and in the US). We had a great day at North Beach enjoying the beach, the food, the entertainment and music shows.
As I knew it would be busy, I planned a cleanup event the morning after in order to clean the beach after the messy people… it’s dirty every day so I was expecting a bit more than usual (Rosie and I created a Facebook group to gather people in order to clean up the beach where we live)!
But what a horrible surprise when we got there… it was way worse than I could possibly imagine! As you can see on the pictures, there was shit all over the place, literally… cups, cans, bottles, boxes, food packaging, fireworks, flags, necklaces, diapers etc… It was really sad to be honest and pretty upsetting as well.
I know people don’t respect anything but I don’t know, I didn’t expect it to be that bad!! Also, I thought the city would have organized something to clean up at least a bit after the event last night… but apparently not.
In total, in 1h30 we picked up 13 bags (11 big ones and 2 small ones), which makes it up to 600L (156 gallons)! We didn’t have scales to weigh them, but that’s a lot!
[RANT MODE ON]
It was impossible for us to clean everything obviously. 15 people RSVP’d on VolunteerCleanup.Org, but no one showed up (it’s more fun to party than to wake up early and clean up other people’s trash, I admit it!). So it was left to Rosie & I.
Thankfully, once we started 3 nice guys came to help us (thank you David, Gabriel and the stranger).
WTF is wrong with people, seriously. I know there are lots of dumb people but come on! The beach was full of (apparently) nice families and friends, with more equipment than anyone would need to go to the beach (you know, the tents, speakers, tables, cool boxes, chairs, etc)… didn’t think about taking f*cking bags with you??? They bring more with them to the beach than I own in my entire life and still can’t have the decency to pick up after themselves!
When you eat or drink in your home, at a friend’s house or at the restaurant, do you just throw everything on the floor as well… hoping someone else will pick it up? No!
Would you be happy if thousands of people came to your house and garden to eat, have fun, then leave all their shit there? What would you think? Pretty disrespectful right? So why on Earth do you do the same on the beach??? Is that what you want to show and teach your children? If you don’t care about the animals (you know, the turtles nesting on this beach at night, or the birds and fish eating what they can find in the water), at least respect the other people who come to the beach every day! And what about your kids? You need to be their role model, someone who teaches them right from wrong. Not someone who teaches the next generation that it’s ok to litter!
While cleaning up, I got mad (it could have been worse though). While we were picking up trash, I saw a woman with a metal detector looking for valuable items left behind. She was going through all the rubbish, moving cups and boxes around to find valuable things… but do you think it crossed her mind to pick anything up? Hell no! Honestly, I was fuming. I went to see her and offered her a plastic bag to see her reaction. I wanted to see if she would help pick up litter whilst looking for metal. She politely took it… but she didn’t pick up anything, and threw away the bag at the next trash can! I ran back to see her and had a go at her… and she didn’t even understand why.
Also on the beach, all the people that were there relaxing, only 3 offered to help. I don’t understand how everyone else can just ignore everything around them and do nothing. Something has to be done to make people react, and more than anything ACT! Because yes, it’s easy to join a Facebook group, to post online that using plastic is bad, and pretend you give a shit on social media or around the coffee machine… but when it comes to actually TAKING ACTION, and DOING SOMETHING… it gets really quiet suddenly!! Why did you join this group if you are not willing to help? Just to look cool in front of your friends? Great…
A message to the people managing this beautiful city (because yes, I still think Miami Beach is a beautiful place and I love it here – that’s why I care so much!). You pulled out all the stops for a great day and I honestly thank you for it, it was fun! However, I think you should have done a few things differently:
- It’s nice to give out flags and necklaces to people but what do you think they are going to do with them afterward? Let’s not be naive, don’t tell me you actually thought everyone was going to trash them or take them home, right?!
- Also, you should strongly encourage the sponsors and everyone participating to be more responsible: T-Mobile was providing some cardboard fans… again, where do you think they’re all going to end up?
- You should have better sponsors. Rather than choosing brands distributing tons of sugar in cans (Coca-Cola), why not partner with more eco-friendly and healthy brands? And why not have some educational stands for the kids to play with while learning about the environment? Ok, Coca-Cola has got more money and probably paid big dollars to be there, but it’s not all about the money you know and at the end, people will realize that one day when it comes to voting.
- You should not accept food trucks providing plastic straws and styrofoam packaging to take away, period. By the way, it’s really time to do something about that globally for all the Miami Beach businesses. There are so many alternatives to plastic such as bamboo.
- I’m not going to say what I thought about the mayor’s speech on stage because it doesn’t matter… but a little word like “and please, if you like this place, clean up after yourselves, thank you” wouldn’t have cost much you know.
- Please, next year, simply forbid people from setting off their own fireworks on the beach as we found lots of firework residue & packaging!
Lastly, I have a question. Let me remind you first that I’m not American. I am French and we moved here recently. There is something I noticed since I moved here, you have some… odd jobs, that I have never seen anywhere else. Like, you have people holding a sign for a parking lot, or you have people packing groceries in the supermarkets, or people putting soap in my hands in the toilets and turning on the tap for me. Why not, I don’t really get it to be honest but unemployment is low so that’s cool. But there’s one thing that troubles me here. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I don’t believe those jobs are really rewarding, it doesn’t make you feel better about yourself. If people are motivated to work, why not hire more people to clean the beach and the city? I’m sure lots of residents would love to help their community and the city they cherish! And you know what, even homeless people would be willing to help… they are sometimes (often) more respectful and helpful than people in a “good situation”! I understand there is a budget to deal with, and that the jobs I’m talking about are provided by private companies… but it would be for the good of your city and people living here will be thankful for it and will remember it! The only problem with that is, you have to make sure people do their jobs… sadly, too often I see employees in the streets or parks just taking a break… a long one! But maybe you could reward them according to how much they pick up, that might motivate them and they would make big money considering the amount of litter in the street and on the beach!!
Oh, and the real-last thing: the police and the lifeguards on the beach should do more prevention/education. If they see someone leaving rubbish behind, they should notify them.
[RANT MODE OFF]
If you made it here and are still with me, sorry for the long post (originally published on Facebook), but I had a lot I had to get off my chest! My wife and I recently moved here, we absolutely love it, and we are sad to see locals disrespecting the city and the environment like that! People need to be (re)educated, and a real effort has to be done with children right now if we don’t want the next generation to follow our bad examples!
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