This Saturday, Sept. 21, is the 34th annual International Coastal Cleanup, an effort by coastal communities to remove trash from their beaches and coastal areas. Created and run by The Ocean Conservancy, a national nonprofit, the program relies on local partners to orchestrate and run the cleanups. To date, more than 1 million volunteers have removed over 23 million pounds of trash in cleanups around the world.
This year, Florida Sea Grant is hosting five cleanup events throughout the state. These are among the more than 300 Florida cleanups shown on the Ocean Conservancy website.
“Anyone can participate,” says Brittany Hall-Scharf, Florida Sea Grant agent in Hernando County. At her county’s event, volunteers will be given gloves, trash bags and water, and the first 300 participants will also receive a T-shirt and raffle ticket. Learn more about the event here.
Ana Zangroniz, Florida Sea Grant agent in Miami-Dade County, will be working in partnership with Biscayne National Park to host a cleanup on one of Elliott Key’s sea turtle nesting beaches. Learn more about the event here.
Florida Sea Grant fellow Caitlin Barker is working with Broward County and partners to host an event at the Dr. Von D. Mizell Eula-Johnson State Park. Learn more about the event here.
Savanna Barry, Florida Sea Grant agent, will be hosting the cleanup at Cedar Key. Learn more about the event here.
Laura Tiu, Florida Sea Grant agent in Okaloosa and Walton counties, will be helping at the four cleanup sites in Okaloosa County. Learn more about the event here.
Besides being one of the longest-running and largest coastal cleanups, the International Coastal Cleanup is also unique in that it analyzes all of the trash that is collected.
The 2017 cleanup’s collection was the first year each of the top 10 trash items contained plastic components, if they weren’t entirely made of plastic, Barry noted. For example, cigarette butts, which often top the list, have a plastic filter. Knowing the types of trash has led to some productive changes, she adds.
“Some beaches have installed more cigarette receptacles,” Barry said. Also, hosts have asked for sponsorships from companies whose products are frequently found during the cleanups.
Events are happening all over the state this Saturday (Sept. 21), and anyone can be involved. To learn more, visit The Ocean Conservancy website at oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/.