It’s kind of ironic as I write this post because I started the draft a few days ago and now that we Floridians are just past the threat of Hurricane Matthew, it seems more than appropriate to talk about. Luckily, most of Florida dodged a pretty big bullet as the destruction from this powerful storm could have been considerably worse if it had decided to come ashore. However, the Atlantic coastline up and down the state did take some severe beatings and undoubtably brought debris ashore, along with litter from nearby structures. Trash on the beach can harm wildlife, and is especially dangerous to marine life if it gets washed out to sea. According to www.sciencedaily.com as of 2008, trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year through ingestion and entanglement. This is so sad and yet so easily preventable!
I try to celebrate Earth Day every day and one of my favorite ways of giving back to our beautiful planet is to participate in a beach clean-up whenever I have the chance. Whether it’s organized by a group or just going about it on my own, or with a good friend, it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend morning or evening, strolling along the beach while tidying up the shoreline at the same time. All you need is a trash bag and either some rubber gloves or a trash picker-upper and you’re good to go! Walk along the beach and collect as much garbage as you can and then discard appropriately. You’ll be amazed at how much junk you can pick up in just a few minutes of beach-combing. Who knows, you might even find a pretty shell or a nice pair of sunglasses too while you’re at it.
If you live in the Central Florida area and are looking for ways to get involved, check out the Mission Clean Beaches website, a non-profit organization created to raise awareness of marine debris and educate people on how it affects coastal wildlife. You can also participate in a monthly clean-up sponsored by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in Melbourne, or look for volunteer opportunities with Tampa Bay Watch if you are closer to the gulf coast. If you aren’t located in this area, visit the Ocean Conservatory’s website to find a local clean-up site near where you live. Imagine how much nicer it would be to walk on pristine beaches with no cigarette butts, no empty bottles and wrappers, or random pieces of trash?!
Have you ever participated in a coastal clean-up project before? What was the strangest object you came across in your treasure hunt? (Mine was a very large bra) Tell me about it in the comments!