The Ocean Conservancy coordinated an International Coastal Cleanup with their affiliate Keep Pinellas Beautiful yesterday as part of a biannual effort to educate the public, business and government officials about the scale of the global marine debris problem. In Gulfport local residents volunteered for the cleanup.
Last year, The Great American Cleanup organized 3 million volunteers through 30,000 events in 17,000 communities. The effort removed 86 million pounds of litter from landscapes and waterways, recycled 10 million pounds of metals, 37 million pounds of newsprint, 1.4 million tires, and 5.3 million pounds of electronics. Dozens of volunteers both young and old pitched in at Sunday’s cleanup, finding three hundred and fifty three pounds of trash. Some of the volunteers even paddled out to pick up waste.
Keep Pinellas Beautiful is recognized as the leading organization in Pinellas County for managing volunteer efforts to remove and reduce urban litter and marine debris. The organization’s operating budget comes from Pinellas County, limited grants and corporate sponsorships. This weekend, folks went out early to locate and contain litter.
If the trash collected from the national cleanup is any indication of the problem, Americans are using oceans, lakes, and rivers as a dumpsite. Barbara Theriault is a member of The St. Pete Garden Club, and was appalled at the mess she had to clean up.
Volunteer Elsie Crimaldi is with the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce, Keep America Beautiful, and the National Estuary Program. She says that the Cleanup happens in the fall and spring every year.
The Keep Pinellas County Beautiful program is an affiliate of the Keep America Beautiful program. Crimaldi described how this has galvanized local volunteering.
Keep America Beautiful is best known for the “Crying Indian” public service advertisement, which launched on Earth Day in 1971. This advertising campaign has been widely credited, including in Frank Lowenstein’s “Voices of Protest,” with inspiring America’s fledgling environmental movement. Crimaldi tells how this has had an impact.
The next Cleanup is October 24th at Station Square Park in Clearwater. To volunteer in Hillsborough County, go to http://www.khcbonline.org. For Pinellas County go to http://keeppinellasbeautiful.org.