The flurry of photos started arriving yesterday morning – shot after shot of what looked like giant metal crabs, their spindly legs bent into unnatural positions.
Hundreds of them lay mangled and abandoned on the sandy beach near Port Aransas, a day after the Fourth of July weekend.
“I’ve already seen two dozen of these shade structures littering the beach,” my friend Jason Jones texted, his anger palpable through the text messages he kept sending me. “They’re everywhere.”
A few minutes later, more photos arrived, each one showing more invasive metal crabs.
“They really do need to ban those things,” he wrote. “They’re not made to be disposable.”
Shade canopies are cheap
Every Walmart and Academy sells them. The cheapest ones cost $40 or $50. In today’s world, they’re disposable.
Jones told me he quit counting after spotting 300 of the flimsy structures discarded on the beach between the first two access points. A crew in a pickup truck was gathering as many as they could, but they would be quickly overwhelmed.
“It’s everything from broken ones to ones that are still set up,” Jones told me this morning. “They just leave them. Man, it’s horrible.”
Related: Trash is piiling up on Texas beaches – please help clean it up
It’s part of a broader problem. I don’t understand people who leave garbage at the beach. Don’t they go to the ocean because it’s pretty? Who wants to sit next to a pile of plastic bottles, snack wrappers, wrecked beach toys, or shade canopies?
Help keep beaches clean
According to the Port Aransas Adopt-a-Beach website, thousands of pounds of trash are removed from area beaches each year. Some of the refuse washes in from offshore, but most is left by beachgoers, the website says.
That’s why the city has installed trashcans and dispensers where you can pick up reusable mesh litterbags at nearly 20 beach locations.
Please, when you go to the beach, limit what you bring. Take your trash with you when you leave. Better yet, pick up some of what other folks have left behind, too. (Remember the motto Take Three for the Sea.)
And please – think about what you buy. Do you really need that shade structure if you’re only going to use it once? Maybe we can get along with less. That’ll mean a more beautiful planet for the next generation.