Apparently, leaving canopies on the beach is an issue around Tampa, according to Florida newspaper The Beach Beacon. But, according to this article, it’s not the polyethylene or polyester canopies that are being left behind but, instead, the steel frame of the canopies. As a result, the frame is washing up and getting caught between the erosion and coastal construction lines, as these public beaches, like several in Florida, have received some coastal reconstruction to reduce erosion damage. What type of threat do metal steel canopies pose for the environment? Although a canopy or tarp, theoretically, may tear and, like plastic bags, may have animals getting caught in it or attempting to consume it, the metal structure is simply litter.
If the steel structure of a canopy is left on the beach and goes out to sea, the metal will eventually rust. Although not as harmful to marine life as plastic or Styrofoam items, anything that is litter going out into the ocean may harm marine life – and steel components may be harmful to larger marine creature. If you don’t know about how harmful litter of all types is to the ocean, Green Eco Services has a page detailing the effects of litter on marine creatures.
If you’re a beach goer, what can you do to prevent beach litter? The first thing is to take your canopy home. Most steel pop-up canopies are easy to transport and take in a car, so when packing up your things, remember to bring both the canopy and steel structure. If you see others leaving their steel canopies on the beach – but taking everything else with them – remind them about the canopy they’re leaving behind or, if the canopy is already abandoned, contact any local authorities to report the abandoned canopy. Although a steel canopy frame may be alone on the beach, the tide may rise and drag it out to sea.