The University of Georgia Marine Extension Services and Georgia Sea Grant are making sure fans clean up their act during the Georgia-Florida football game this year.
The service reached out to the community through social media, encouraging beach-goers to responsibly dispose of their trash on East Beach on St. Simons Island No. 1, the day before the game.
Approximately 8,000 fans visit the beach, leaving behind all kinds of trash, according to a UGA Today press release.
"The trash that football fans leave behind has far-reaching impacts on Georgia's coastal ecosystem and marine life," said Lea King-Badyna, public relations specialist for the Marine Extension Services and Georgia Sea Grant in the Brunswick facility.
The waste left behind could harm marine life. Georgia's tides rise and fall between 6 to 10 feet twice a day, according to the press release. The morning of the game, volunteers in the Glynn County community will participate in the sixth annual Community Beach Sweep to clean up as much trash as possible left by fans.
Last year, 91 volunteers collected 5,400 pounds of trash ad 500 pounds of recyclables, according to the press release. Diana Orquiola, a recent graduate of UGA with a degree in health promotion and behavior, volunteers in the Athens office of the Marine Extension Services and Georgia Sea Grant where he helps promote the "Stash your Trash" initiative.
Orquiola said she has not received much feedback from the Greek organizations that she contacted.
"I haven't been getting as much support as I want from the UGA community right now, but the Brunswick community, I've been getting a lot of support from , obviously, because they're right there," Orquiola said.
Although Orquiola has not gotten much support from the Greek community, she said Phi Kappa Psi fraternity supports the initiative.
“Some Phi Kappa Psi brothers helped with the cleanup last year, and when I contacted one of the brothers, he actually said he’s trying to get his fraternity to help with the cleanup this year and challenge other fraternities to help as well,” she said.
Ryan Casey, a sophomore business management major from St. Simons Island, serves as the sergeant at arms for Phi Kappa Psi. He said the fraternity is taking the cleanup of East Beach even more serious this year.
“I’ve already told the chapter, you know, at the past three or four chapter meetings that everyone that’s there is all going to get up and we’re all going to go to the Community Beach Sweep,” Casey said. “There’s going to be at least 20 of us out there. I told them if I have to go through hitting pots and pans in everyone’s rooms waking them up, we’re all going to get up and go.”
Casey said he has personally seen the excessive amount of trash built up from the party-goers on Georgia-Florida weekend.
“I know what it’s like to just have people come in and trash your home like that,” he said.
Casey said he thinks visitors of St. Simons Island are good for business and tourism, but he also thinks beach-goers, especially the Greek community, should act responsibly and take the “Stash Your Trash” initiative seriously.
“I think it’s a great idea if everyone can get behind it, especially the Greek community,” Casey said. “Because the Greek community, you know, we are the majority of people who are on East Beach that Friday.”