International Coastal Cleanup Slated for September 18

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Every year thousands of tons of garbage winds up in our Gulf and Bay, with at least 60% of that being composed of plastic material. Plastics, especially, last a very long time in the ocean and are in such abundance that there are 46,000 individual pieces of plastic litter for every square mile of ocean! This is a dire situation for the health of the earth’s oceans, which directly impacts the health of its people.

Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles, in partnership with Visit South Walton, will once again host the International Coastal Cleanup. The Volunteer Beach Ambassador Team invites all community members and visitors to the Emerald Coast to join in the efforts to clean up the beaches of South Walton on Saturday morning, September 18th, from 9-11 a.m. “We will work with little pomp and circumstance,” says VBA director Laurie Reichenbach, “but rather with a heart for serving our community and our beautiful coastal environment, and to gain the sense of serving for the greater good of Walton County and the health of the marine and bird life that make the Gulf of Mexico their home. Will you join us? Can we count on you?”

History of International Coastal Cleanup
The International Coastal Cleanup began more than 30 years ago, when communities across the world rallied together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline. The movement was accelerated by the passion and spirit of two committed individuals: Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara. The Cleanup has grown immensely in the 30 years since Linda and Kathy’s first Cleanup. Volunteers from states and territories throughout the U.S. and more than 100 countries come together each year and participate in a Cleanup event near them. Over the years, this movement has created a family that spans oceans and country borders. It is a network that works together for something bigger than us.

Harnessing the Power of People to Fight Ocean Trash
In partnership with volunteer organizations and individuals around the globe, the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) engages people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways. Thanks to volunteers around the world, the ICC has become a beacon of hope, leading and inspiring action in support of our ocean. Since its beginning, over 16 million volunteers have collected more than 340 million pounds of trash.

If you would like to join in a cleanup at a Regional Access, you will find Host Volunteer Beach Ambassadors at the following locations:

• Inlet Beach Regional Access, 139 S. Orange St., Inlet Beach
• Santa Clara Regional Access, 3468 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Seagrove
• Ed Walline Regional Access, 4447 W. Co. Hwy. 30A, Gulf Place, Santa Rosa Beach
• Big Red Fish, Coastal Dune Lake in Blue Mountain Beach

All participants are encouraged to provide their own trash bags or buckets, gloves, hat, sunscreen, water bottle, etc. There will be limited bags/gloves available for those without.
In other areas, start with something as simple spending the day on the Bay and carrying a roll of garbage bags. Clean up the mess and help to reduce the amount of garbage that gets into the Bay by hauling it away.

Host a Coastal Cleanup Day Event
During the years of this day, more than 12 million volunteers have collected over 220 million pounds of trash from the world’s beaches, rivers, lakes and coastlines. It’s not necessary to live by the beach, since all waterways lead to the ocean eventually. Head over to a local riverbed, lakeside or even a canal or pond that could use a bit of attention. With garbage bags, plastic gloves and trash-picker sticks in hand, send groups of people out to have fun making the earth a much nicer place for people, plants and wildlife!

In past years, county residents and visitors have turned out in large numbers to support the cleaning of our beaches, Bay and the Gulf during the International Coastal Cleanup. Each piece of debris collected is one more piece of trash saved from our ocean systems. This year can be equally effective with your help and presence in this community cleanup.
For more information please contact Laurie Reichenbach at 214-505-6273 or email lauriereichenbach@gmail.com.