Show Florida’s Beaches Some Love

September 11, 2015

By Laura Knight

Next Saturday, September 19, is Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 International Coastal Cleanup Day. Meet up with a group of friends and family at one of Florida’s beaches and help keep our coastlines gorgeous and our ocean critters happy. Events are happening all over Florida, read on for more info.

30 Years of Ocean Conservation

Every year since 1985 volunteers have gathered at beaches and waterways all around the world to participate in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. In 2014 as a result of the Cleanup more than 16 million pounds of trash were removed from beaches and waterways worldwide.

How did Florida do last year?

Florida is known for its gorgeous beaches, but we certainly have our fair share of trash to deal with. During 2014’s Cleanup Day, nearly twenty-three thousand volunteers removed more than 285,000 pounds of trash from Florida’s beaches and waterways (you can review the data here >> OC 2015 Report).

Volunteer at a Florida beach or waterway near you

To participate at a beach cleanup near you visit oceanconservancy.org. On their website, zoom into Florida on the map, and click on any of the star icons for details about Coastal Cleanup Day events in your area.

Each event may be a bit different depending on who is sponsoring and coordinating it. Some events are sponsored and coordinated by your local government. Most event coordinators will supply you with water/drinks, bags and gloves, but be sure to read the complete event details for the location you select. Typically, state parks waive entrance fees for cleanup volunteers as well.

Last year I participated in the Coastal Cleanup at Canaveral National Seashore, and volunteers were given a free t-shirt and treated to a nice lunch by the water. Afterwards we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at the beach!

Yuck

What if you really, really don’t want to touch the trash, but would still like to help somehow?

A great way to help the Cleanup cause without getting your hands dirty is to be the “record-keeper” for your group. As your group moves along collecting trash, the record keeper tallies up all of it to give to the event coordinator. These numbers are then used to help determine the impact of the cleanup and to educate people about ocean pollution prevention.

This year Ocean Conservancy has developed the Clean Swell app. It’s free and you can use it to record the trash you remove from the beach or waterway. The Clean Swell app is available for Android and iOS.

Cleanup Crew Tips!

You’re going to want one of these picker-upper-things. I purchased one from Walgreens for about $25.00. That seems like a lot for volunteer day, but remember, the grabber can be reused year after year.

 

I also recommend bringing a backpack with:

  • sunblock
  • hand-sanitizer
  • extra gloves
  • insect repellent
  • a spare bottle of water
  • hat and sunglasses

Wear comfortable clothes and durable footwear (flip flops and bare feet are not a good idea).

When you’re done, you might want to relax on the beach for a bit, so don’t forget to bring your regular beach supplies.

Conserve and protect Florida’s beaches

In just a few hours during one day of the year you can make an enormous, positive impact for Florida’s beaches, waterways and wildlife. And we all benefit from that.

Have you participated in a Coastal Cleanup Day before? Share your tips and memories with us in the comments!

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A September sunset on a beach at Anna Maria Island, Fla. A photo filter was not used, Florida is breathtaking! Image: Laura Knight

A September sunset on a beach at Anna Maria Island, Fla. A photo filter was not used, Florida is breathtaking! Image: Laura Knight

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