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By: Mary Jean Yon, Executive Director, on August 30, 2016
Did you know there are 1,350 miles of coastline surrounding Florida? Many people work hard to keep those beaches and coastal areas looking their best for Floridians and visitors. On September 17, 2016, many of the Florida affiliates will participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) and join forces with groups worldwide to shine a bright light on the prevalence and problems with marine debris.
Marine debris is a serious pollution problem that affects the health of people, wildlife, and local economies. Trash in the water and on the shore not only looks bad, but can also harm marine animals, injure swimmers and beachgoers, and even ensnare boat propellers.
The Ocean Conservancy held the first International Coastal Cleanup over 30 years ago and has transformed this annual event into a highly successful global initiative. Last year alone, the 2015 ICC attracted a grand total of almost 800,000 people who collected 18 million pounds of debris. But here’s the really amazing part. In Florida alone, last year’s ICC engaged 204,022 people who collected over 3.9 million pounds of debris which make us a big player in this worthwhile event.
The top five waste items collected will not surprise you. Cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws topped the list. Whether the trash finds its way to the shoreline by way of storm drains, coastal migration or the careless actions of people, we find there is no shortage of debris to be removed. Sad but true. What is heartwarming about the ICC is knowing that people all around the globe understand the issue and turn out to help.
Through the success of the Ocean Conservancy, inroads have been made towards securing more research funding for marine debris and enabling more steps to be taken to ensure our trash never reaches the beach in the first place.
Florida affiliates have a long-standing record of supporting the ICC and will be out in full force on Saturday, September 17. Find an affiliate near you on the Keep Florida Beautiful website (www.keepfloridabeautiful.org/affiliates) and join in to help make a difference. Our oceans and coastal areas need your help!