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Here’s what Hilton Head’s beaches looked like after Memorial Day weekend

Hilton Head Island Elementary students speak up for covered trash bins on the beach

Students from Hilton Head Island Elementary School spoke up at a December 2018 council meeting to push for covered trash bins on the island's beaches.
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Students from Hilton Head Island Elementary School spoke up at a December 2018 council meeting to push for covered trash bins on the island's beaches.

Mountains of garbage were stacked along the Hilton Head Island coastline in the aftermath of Memorial Day weekend, according to a Facebook post by the Palmetto Ocean Conservancy.

The overflowing trash bins at Coligny and Burkes beaches were symptoms of a busy, hot holiday weekend on the beach.

Palmetto Ocean Conservancy CEO Michelle Meissen said the town is in “dire need” of more frequent trash pickups and more responsible beachgoers when it comes to plastic waste.

“(Hilton Head) needs to do more about the beach cleanups after events. What a disappointment to see this view tonight,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

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A picture of an overfilled beach trash can on Coligny Beach on Memorial Day weekend. Brittany Paige Palmetto Ocean Conservancy

The heaps of trash included hundreds of plastic cups and bottles and trash bags full of food.

Meissen said the post-holiday piles are because trash pickup schedules aren’t quick enough for the big beach crowds.

Shore Beach Service, which is the contracted beach patrol agency for the Town of Hilton Head Island, picks up trash from the beach in the morning and throughout the day as necessary, according to a representative from the Shore Beach communications center.

But holiday crowds overwhelm the trash system, Meissen said.

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The Hilton Head Island beach where photographer Ned McNair said he frequently photographs the sunrise ... “and the trash cans.” Ned McNair submitted

“I’m curious to know what Fourth of July is going to look like, if this is Memorial Day...” she said.

She added that the conservancy group is planning a beach cleanup day July 5.

Hilton Head residents as young as 10 are trying to solve the beach litter problem.

In December, three fifth-grade students from Hilton Head Elementary School approached the Hilton Head Island Town Council to propose covering and securing beach trash cans to stop them from tipping.

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Rosa Olivetti, Joshua Prada and Ethan Simpson -- 5th grade students from Hilton Head Island Elementary School -- spoke at a December 2018 council meeting to push for covered trash bins on the island’s beaches. Town of Hilton Head Island Town Council archived video.

Rosa Olivetti, Joshua Prada and Ethan Simpson got what they asked for in March when the public facilities committee heard initial plans for wooden trash enclosures that would keep trash better contained.

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The proposed design for trash enclosures on Hilton Head Island. Town of Hilton Head Island public facilities agenda.

The corrals, although not any larger than the existing trash cans, would cost the town around $120,000 to install at every beach park, according to a presentation by town engineer Scott Liggett.

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Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.
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