South Florida makes a major difference on International Coastal Cleanup Day

Trash Beach Cleanup South Florida – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Serenethos

Over the past weekend, South Florida joined a global effort to remove tons of trash and debris from our waterways and oceans on International Coastal Cleanup Day. 

The mission was launched by the Ocean Conservancy nonprofit 36 years ago and has grown incredibly. Today, the organization involves 160 countries and is more urgent than ever.

“It’s grown tremendously,” said J.P. Brooker, the Florida Conservation Director for Ocean Conservancy. “I’ve been with Ocean Conservancy for eight years, and in those eight years I’ve seen more turnout, more care, more passion about Florida’s ocean and coasts.”

More than 50 cleanups were held throughout Miami-Dade County with over 3,000 volunteers getting in on the event from Elliott Key and Biscayne Bay National Park to Oleta State Park in North Miami Beach. A record of 17,771 pounds of waste was collected in Miami-Dade alone.

In Broward County, the Sun of a Beach Cleanup and Surfrider Foundation were out on Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful beach, along with the Trashy Girls Collective and Parrot Lounge.

“Today we collected 200 pounds of trash and over 1,000 cigarette butts,” said Desiree DiClemente DiSalvo of Sun of a Beach Cleanup. “Please remember to bin your butt.”

In Virginia Key, the Debris Free Oceans collected 200 pounds of trash, while Clean Miami Beach also had a huge haul. They scoured the shoreline behind the Eden Roc hotel with 77 volunteers.

“We picked up 284 pounds of trash,” Clean Miami Beach founder Sophie Ringel said. “Miami, we need to stop littering!”

Radio station Revolution 93.5 teamed up with Clean This Beach Up to scavenge the MacArthur Causeway.

“Today with 126 volunteers we were able to remove almost 1,400 pounds of marine debris from our shoreline,” Clean This Beach Up founder MJ Algarra said. “What a great way to celebrate International Coastal Cleanup Day.”

But the largest load of trash came from the Miami Marine Stadium basin. Sendit4thesea volunteers collected more than 2,000 pounds of garbage.

“The problem is not only not going away, but it’s also getting much worse and it’s because of our consumption of single-use plastics,” said Dave Doebler of VolunteerCleanup.Org.

A lack of respect and consciousness for the environment is one of the biggest driving factors. 

“It’s hard to understand why someone would leave plastic or any other kind of garbage on the beach,” said Adam Blalock, Deputy Secretary for Ecosystems Restoration for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Even then, 80% of the litter found in our oceans and bay comes from land-based sources.

Ocean Conservancy noted the top five items picked up from this year’s cleanups:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Bottle caps
  • Food wrappers
  • Water and soda bottles
  • Plastic bags

Just this year, we have lost an unprecedented 937 manatees so far. They are starving to death as their food source, seagrass, is depleting because of pollution. 

The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of the effects all of this has on the environment. The eco-army is growing.

“You see the problem and it’s never-ending,” Doebler said. “But then you have events like this and you realize that there are so many good humans out in the world who do care and want to make a difference.”

Don’t fret if you missed it! There are cleanups every weekend in Florida, click here for a list of the many organizations that hold them.

Make sure you are staying up-to-date with the latest and most important Florida news with Florida Insider. Whether you are interested in business, education, government, history, sports, real estate, nature, weather, or travel: we have something for everyone. Follow along for the best stories in the Sunshine State.