Sunset Beach Civic Association cleans up beach with touch of humor

Sunset Beach Community Association Beach Cleanup has posted several small signs to encourage beach visitors to throw their cigarette butts in the trash cans. TBN columnist John Morton says a proposed ban on smoking on Florida sand would be even better.

TREASURE ISLAND – There are no buts about it, the Sunset Beach Community Association is on a mission to keep its beach clean, with some easy-going, laid-back humor.

Steve Yost, Sunset Beach Community Association Beach Cleanup coordinator, said “in an effort to reduce the amount of cigarette butts we find on the beach, our little SBCA started an awareness program to bring this issue to the forefront of our smoking public. What’s different about our awareness program is that we’re trying to do it with a little humor.”

“With the city’s permission, the association posted a number of small signs in strategic places that remind beachcombers: ‘You are now entering a no-butts-left-behind zone,’” Yost said. “On the sign, we have a beach scene that depicts a crumpled-up cigarette butt stuck in the sand. It’s pretty self-explanatory.”

This is the second phase of the program, he said, because at least the signs are so popular five of the original postings were stolen.

“For many years the Sunset Beach Community Association has been actively involved in keeping our beach tidy and clean. For the past 5 years the SBCA has sponsored a once-a-month beach trash pickup event,” he added.

“We go out, have a good time and clean up our beach. Most of the things we find are small like bottle caps, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, plastic straws and cigarette butts, no big items like washing machines. It is the cigarette butts that we pick up most; lots and lots of cigarette butts,” he said.

That’s when Yost thought perhaps using humor would stick in people’s minds, so they would see the funny signs and remember to take their cigarette butts to trash cans, he added.

Everyone is invited to show up and help groom Sunset Beach on the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. until noon. Early birds, who arrive at 8:45 a.m., can avail themselves of free breakfast served to volunteers at nearby Caddy’s On The Beach. Yost said Caddy’s is very supportive of their efforts.

He said the association would be happy to help the city or any other civic groups acquire their signs in hopes that the humor campaign will catch on and spread to other beaches.

As Sunset Beach grows in popularity, at the southern end of Treasure Island, it is even being touted by Visit St. Pete Clearwater “as a beach lover’s community straight out of a Buffett song. This neighborhood welcomes guests of all lifestyles with open arms and is especially popular with the local LGBT community. On Sunset Beach, you will find uniquely decorated houses, tiki huts, white sands and beachfront bars where bohemian attitudes prevail.”

The county visitor’s bureau suggests people visit it “for the sunsets of course, but also for the live and let live attitudes, which make this the ultimate place to discover your inner parrot-head, since it is rumored to be, yet another, beach that inspired the hit song ‘Margaritaville.’”

That laid-back spirit is also reflected in the Community Association’s cleanup effort, which reminds visitors to help keep Sunset Beach clean with humor and a touch of philosophical beachcomber reasoning.

For example, Yost explained, if they find one flip-flop on the beach, it’s usually tossed into the trash, because what will someone do with one flip-flop? However, two flip-flops are left in the sand in case someone just forgot their beachwear and will be back later to retrieve it.

The association raises funds by providing people with a chance to have their loved one’s name inscribed on a bench. Yost said what started as a memorial project, now finds people buying inscribed benches for living relatives.

“It’s become a very popular item,” he added.

More information about the Beach Cleanup or Beach Bench program can be found by visiting the group’s Facebook page or webpage at www.sbcati.org.