By Ginger DeShaney
Armed with trash bags and bright yellow kitchen gloves, Kristin Price is doing her part for the South Boston community and the environment through her Southie Beach Club, a community dedicated to keeping Southie beaches clean and protecting our earth.
She gets out every week, usually on Mondays, rain or shine, to pick up trash. “I always collect a full full-sized trash bag, even if it’s just in 20 minutes,” she said, noting she usually starts at the beach at the end of K Street.
For her tireless work, Andrew Orpik nominated Kristin for South Boston Online’s Volunteer Spotlight.
“Our good friend Kristin Price started a Monday morning ‘Southie Beach Club’ where she goes to clean up the beach by hand of all the leftover trash after the weekend. She’s worthy of the Southie Spotlight!”
During COVID, Kristin was looking for a way to give back.
“With the pandemic and me working from home, plus having a little baby, I felt like there wasn’t a lot I could do,” Kristin said. “We weren’t traveling anymore, we weren’t doing these big things anymore, so I did a lot of what everybody did, which was taking walks around the neighborhood.
“During the challenging times in the depth of the pandemic, that’s where I saw the most life still happening. People were walking with their friends in masks, people were out at the beach and they were still windsurfing and taking advantage of the beach. It was really the most happy and lively place that I was seeing. I wanted to do something. I felt like there was so much challenge going on in the world, I wanted to do something good.”
Kristin, a genetic counselor who works remotely for a California company that does genetic testing for cancer, knew she couldn’t do something big, “because you couldn’t do much in person and I had this little baby, so I just started picking up trash on the beach. As I would go for a walk, I’d just bring a trash bag and pick up trash on the beach. And I noticed there was a lot of it. It was something that was really needed.”
From people getting up at 6 in the morning with their wetsuits on to go swimming, to the kids playing spikeball on the weekend, to windsurfers and people out with their dogs, “there’s just all kinds of different ways people use the beach and so I wanted to do something that celebrated that vibrancy and diversity but also give back.”
She decided she’d just put it out there on social media and see if she could inspire others to do the same. “It felt good to do something small that felt like it was giving back to the beach, which I think is something that makes Southie really special.”
She came back from a Monday morning of picking up trash before work and decided to start an Instagram account (@southiebeachclub) and created her own logo. She posted about what she was doing and wanted to see if anyone would follow her.
“If I can spend 20 minutes in a day and make a tiny difference, that feels good,” she said.
She keeps the account really positive (not focusing on all the trash) and fun and makes it super easy for others and herself. She encourages people to get out for 20 minutes to pick up trash wherever they’d like, whether it’s the beach or their street.
“It started slow,” she said about the account. “I got like 10 followers and was super excited. But I got a ton of support from the community now where other businesses are following me and resharing my Instagram.”
She’s up to 184 followers on Instagram at @southiebeachclub. “We are small but mighty!”
Deirfiúr Home has reached out to do a cooperation on Instagram. “There’s been a lot of nice organic support from the community,” Kristin said. She also did a giveaway with Deirfiúr Home and they made a donation to Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.
Local businesses have even reached out to her about planning beach cleanup events. “I’d love to do that!” she said.
She figures things might slow down a bit in the fall and winter but she is looking forward to the spring and possibly doing events and partnerships with local businesses. “I’ve been drawn to trying to better integrate with the community, learn more about the community, and support local businesses,” she said.
“Everybody has been so welcoming and excited to help.”
She’s asked for people to tag her account and post on IG when they are out picking up trash. Last week, she started getting more action, even with people she doesn’t know who were posting that they were out there. “That’s exciting to see,” Kristin said.
She sees people out there picking up trash who may or may not be doing it through Southie Beach Club. “You don’t see a lot of people doing it but I’m starting to see some more,” she said, noting that when she’s out there, people will stop to say thank you or wave at her.
She sees a lot of the same items every week: a lot of beer bottles (lots of Corona) and Fireball nips, plastic water bottles, straws, Dunkies cups, masks, and surprisingly, a good number of socks. “I guess people wear socks to the beach and take them off there and leave them?”
When she finds nice items, like shoes and beach chairs, she tries to leave them at the beach entrances hoping someone will take them.
Sometimes she leaves her full trash bags next to the cans at the beach because the city picks up trash on Mondays; sometimes she brings them home if they are not too heavy or drippy.
Kristin, originally from Minnesota, and her husband, Matt, who is from Toronto, have lived in South Boston for seven years. Baby Grace is 13 months old. “Even though I’m not born and raised in Southie, I feel like I still have a special connection to Southie,” she said, noting they’ve been welcomed into the neighborhood with open arms.
“For me it’s about both giving back to the environment, because that’s important to me, but also about having pride in our community. We want this place to look nice and we want to take care of it because it’s a place that’s really special.