Thirteen student volunteers arrived at the Eckerd waterfront, ready to pick up trash along the Eckerd coastline. 2 hours later, THe volunteered and picked up 55.93 pounds of trash.is a single shoe.
Eckerd’s Reduce Single-Use team has been leading beach cleanups since 2018, and on September 17, they joined millions of people around the world for the International Coastal Cleanup Day.
The first International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) took place on September 17, 1986. This year, volunteers from over 150 countries gathered to pick up litter from coastlines around the world. Organizations across Tampa Bay, including Tampa Bay Watch, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, and the Eckerd’s Reduce Single-Use project team, have cleaned up in ICC compliance.
First year Sidney Taft Cole walked the Eckerd Seawall with a bucket and a garbage collector. This is his second cleanup with Cole since arriving at Eckerd in August.
“I am very interested in marine conservation and often pick up litter in my free time,” Cole said.
Tampa Bay Watch conducted cleanup activities in three high-priority locations in St. Petersburg, Tara Koch explained. Cook is a restoration specialist for Tampa Bay watches. Between Little Bayou Preserve, Skyway Bridge and Shell Quay, 95 volunteers picked up 1,565 pounds of trash, including plastic bottles, cigar tips and cigarette butts.
“Your volunteer work has contributed to a global initiative to combat marine litter, raising awareness and highlighting the importance of the estuary in our backyard, Tampa Bay,” Koku said.
Little Bayou Preserve is a neighborhood park on the coast of Pinellas Point, with a mangrove habitat along the water’s edge. During his two-hour cleanup of 40 volunteers he collected 343 pounds of garbage. St. Pete locals Devan and her daughter helped clean up Little Bayou.
“We found grocery bags tied around the mangroves,” Devan said. After cleaning up, Devan’s goal is to use less plastic shopping bags and keep reusable water bottles.
Keep your Pinellas Beautiful organized in Bartlett Park and Clam Bayou. In total, 77 volunteers picked up his 525.77 pounds of trash. Kelly Crawford, Brian Drew and their dog Rufus participated in a cleanup in Bartlett Park, including part of Salt Creek. Drew works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) mapping marine debris hotspots (where debris naturally gathers from wind and currents).
According to Drew, the best way to keep waste out of our waterways is to use less single-use plastic and keep bins from overflowing. Crawford added that it’s important to go out and educate others, especially children, about marine debris.
“Let’s get them interested and involved,” Crawford said.