Clean Beaches Week and Independence Day: Tips for COVID-conscious and Eco-friendly Celebrations

America’s Independence Day celebrations – taking place on July 4th each year – are known for bright fireworks, lively gatherings, and trips to the beach. Unfortunately, in the wake of these celebrations, we also see a trail of trash, firework shells, and beach litter. This year especially, recognizing the holiday as old as the USA itself requires a little extra thought and planning. Here are our tips for a celebration that is mindful of our shared planet and a global pandemic that has changed our way of life for a little while:

American Flag on Beach

Tips for eco-friendly celebrations: 

  • #CleanBeachesWeek coincides with the 4th of July, starting on July 1st and lasting until the 7th. If you head to a coastal area to celebrate outdoors, remember to leave memories and not trash. We suggest carrying a small bag with you to collect trash and recyclables, and if you want to go above and beyond, pick up other litter you see along the way! 

  • Reduce your waste footprint by minimizing single use items and making use of reusable ones. 

  • Firework displays create more trash than you might think – and most of it comes from their packaging and the remnants of the launch. If you launch it, pick it up. Click here to learn about the safe disposal of fireworks. You might also consider the source and try finding some eco-friendly firework options or alternatives. Every little bit counts! 

  • Learn about local wildlife if you plan to visit a park, sanctuary, or other outdoor space – read about viewing sites and local regulations to get the most from your wildlife viewing experience. 

  • Social distancing rules apply to animals all the time! Appreciate wildlife from a distance, and respect their space. Grab binoculars, spotting scopes, or cameras to get a closer look. 

  • Never touch or feed animals in their home environment. Touching wildlife can injure the animal or startle them and feeding them can make them more comfortable around humans and put them and their young in danger in the future. It can also lead to injury or illness. 

Tips for safe celebrations during the pandemic: 

  • If you’re celebrating away from your home, be sure to research the beach, park, or other site you plan to visit ahead of time. Not only will you be able to confirm it will be open and its operating hours, you can learn about adjusted rules, requirements, or reservation systems. 

  • Don’t forget your face covering, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes or spray, and tissues! 

  • Remember to wash your hands frequently (the Centers for Disease Control recommends 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and warm water)! If running water isn’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative. 

  • Keep at least six feet of distance between you and other revelers (except for those you live with)! 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, face, nose, or mouth as much as possible. Wash your hands after you do. 

  • Limit your interactions with people you don’t live with. This might mean packing your own food (a money AND waste saver), finding a place that’s more isolated, or limiting your time in public spaces. 

  • Disinfect any shared areas after leaving. These include amenities like picnic tables, benches, railings, and others. If disinfecting wipes or spray aren’t available, hand-sanitizer and a towel is an acceptable substitute. 

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating at home this year! Kick off your celebration with a virtual trip to the beach or one of America’s most iconic and wondrous aquatic places instead by viewing NOAA’s free Virtual Dives that immerse you in sites across the National Marine Sanctuary System!