TRAVERSE CITY — The beaches surrounding the Open Space looked more like landfills than sandy retreats the morning after the Fourth of July, and local volunteers are working to make sure it doesn't happen again after Saturday's fireworks display.
They're putting the onus on beach-goers to leave the shores trash-free at the end of the night.
"Littering is not just throwing something out of the car window, but it's also leaving something behind for someone else to deal with," said Andy Gale, founder of Bay Area Recycling for Charities. "Our goal is to empower them to pick up after themselves."
Gale and Traverse City resident Beth Price are recruiting volunteers to hand out 200 garbage bags along the beaches before the National Cherry Festival fireworks begin tonight.
They'll ask people to bag up their waste at the end of the show rather than leave it in the sand or water, and volunteers will collect the bags at the end of the night to sort out recyclables, compost and trash.
"We want to see if we can make the beach look different after this fireworks display versus the last fireworks display," Gale said.
Bay Area Recycling for Charities employees and volunteers have been working throughout the Cherry Festival to keep the grounds clean.
They arrive before the grounds open and stay well after they close to pick up discarded materials and sort through every bag of trash, recycling and compost to make sure it's organized properly.
"The more hands we have sorting through the materials, the more we can recover," Price said.
Gale's goal is to recycle and compost as much material as possible. He said the sorting system has been running smoothly this year, but he knows he'll need to ramp-up the efforts next year in order to come close to a no-waste event.