Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew starts Spring Litter Sweep Monday

A volunteer organization is encouraging others to help with litter removal on Isle of Palms.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:25 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 8:08 AM EST
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ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCSC) - A volunteer organization is encouraging others to help with litter removal on Isle of Palms.

The Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew will be holding its first of six litter cleanups, the Spring Litter Sweep series, on Monday and they’re encouraging others in the community to participate.

Co-founder Susan Hill Smith said volunteers collected 60,000 pieces of litter during cleanups last year. That’s a 130% increase over 2021.

She says common litter items found on the beach and commercial areas are plastics such as bottle caps, food wrappers, lids, and straw wrappers.

Smith said one litter item remains at the top of the list even though it is prohibited and that is cigarettes.

Organizers say 44% of litter items collected on the beach, streets, sidewalks, and parking lots last year were smoking-related litter items.

“Cigarette litter is our number one both on the beach and on the streetscape even though on the beach the city council passed and adopted in 2020 a law against smoking on the beach,” Smith said. “We’ve seen a decrease in cigarette litter as far as our totals. But that’s still cigarette litter is still our number one and that has both toxic chemicals and plastic threads in it.”

The group has entered a partnership with the South Carolina Aquarium to document their litter data through the aquarium’s Citizen Science app. The app allows citizen scientists to document observations in the area. They said the aquarium reports at the turtle hospital showed a remarkable increase in the amount of plastic they’re seeing ingested by their patients.

Smith said the crew was founded in 2018 after concerns about litter and pollution problems on the beach and how that was affecting both the beach and ocean ecosystems as well as public health and really just wanted to help keep their islands beautiful and protect the area.

Smith encourages avoiding bringing disposable items to the beach and keeping track of beach ordinances prohibiting single-use items.

If you are interested in joining the clean-up crew the first meeting is 5:30 p.m. Monday at 1100 Ocean Boulevard.

More information on the group and future cleanup dates can be found on their Facebook page.