- The National Park Service has removed most of the garbage cans along Ocean Beach in California, hoping to encourage people to take their trash with them when they leave. The Park Service claims other programs like this trial are working elsewhere, but Ocean Beach residents and visitors claim that garbage is piling up in walkways.
- In early November, nine bins were removed from several stairwells with 10 remaining at other stairwells, near fire pits. Scott Hutter, who regularly surfs at Ocean Beach and along the West Coast, told SF Gate that the beaches with more trash cans usually stay cleaner. Eve Thompson has routinely picked up trash along Ocean Beach, but said she will not continue "because there’s nowhere to put it."
- Still, Adrienne Freeman, public affairs specialist for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, reports a cleaner beach but said, “If trash really starts to accumulate, we are going to put the trash cans back."
Leaving plenty of trash cans in convenient places has not resolved the ongoing issue of accumulating trash at Ocean Beach. However, it is questionable whether people will make it a habit to pick up their trash in the absence of receptacles.
"I think [the National Park Service’s] intentions were correct. But hoping people will just get it and carry their own trash home is a bad idea. Personally, if I had a bunch of garbage and I was cleaning up from an event, the last thing I would want to do is bring all of the damp trash to my car and throw it in," said Hutter to the SF Gate.
Thompson mirrored Hutter’s thoughts. "People are lazy, and it’s highly unrealistic to expect them to take their trash with them. We want the trash containers back," she said.
But Freeman told the SF Gate, "We have seen this program be successful before on our other beaches, and I think it will prove true in Ocean Beach as well. We’re getting the word out that you should pack out what you brought in."
In New York City, a similar measure was tried to reduce waste in the subways with success in some areas, but not in others.
California’s park officials are considering another alternative: replacing cans with fewer, larger canisters to help resolve the problem of overflowing receptacles, which was done successfully at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
"It really is a process. We are going to try things and be creative and innovative and ultimately make the beach a safer and cleaner place," said Freeman.