On a Caribbean vacation Bette Booth was changed deeply.

On a Caribbean vacation Bette Booth was changed deeply.

It wasn’t the warm winds or the beautiful seas.

It was the garbage.

Booth had wandered onto a beach while on vacation, and found herself looking at trash as far as she could see and three feet deep.

“I was devastated. I had never seen anything like it; it still gets to me,” Booth said as her voice began to shake.

It didn’t take Booth long to become proactive.

“So then I started looking through it and making art. But then as I started reading about it, it changed my life. How profound it is, how prolific it is, and how it is global,” she said.

That art has turned itself into a travelling educational show that has criss-crossed Florida spreading the word about the dangers of trash into the ocean.

This week, on its last stop, the tour is set up at the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve.

Lynda White, the president of the Friends of St. Joe Bay Preserves, is confident that the local community will understand the need to be aware of trash ending up in the water, but still believes the Splash Trash Tour will surprise them.

“I don’t know if they realize just how terrible it is, and that 90 percent of the trash in our water is plastic,” White said. “Plastic doesn’t go away, it’s there for hundreds of years.”

According to Booth, humans dump 16 billion pounds of trash in the oceans every year.

“By 2050, there will be more pounds of trash in the oceans than pounds of fish,” Booth said.

While the numbers seem daunting, Booth sees a way out of the mess.

“The two big things we can do are clean up the beaches and waterways, so that it doesn’t get into the ocean in the first place; then reduce our single use plastics,” said Booth.

After six stops in less than three months, Booth is happy with the results.

“The goal was to reach 5,000 people personally and 3,000 people via media,” she said. “I’ve accomplished that so I’m very happy.”

White said the goal of the preserve was to reach the children that call this area home.

“They are young and still learning about these things,” White said.

Booth also agreed on the importance of educating children.

“Then there are the kids,” she continued. “I’ve loved working with the kids and we’ve made art in every place we’ve gone. That’s been super rewarding.”

While the tour has been fun for Booth, her main goal was to get people committed to changing habits.

“One thing we do is we ask people to make a commitment to do one new action that they’re not doing now for 30 days,” said Booth. “They write it on a commitment form and they put it on our commitment board.

“So now I am getting emails from people who have been doing this for 30 days. They’re writing me saying that it has become a family thing and now they’re going to do another one.”

Booth gives the Splash Trash Tour visitors simple tasks,

“The big four are carry your own bag, carry your own bottle, carry your own cup, and no straws; that will take care of a bunch of the problem,” she said. “I’m getting a lot of good feedback.”

The tour’s stop at the Buffer Preserve is its last and Booth is taking a break and then returning home to Santa Fe.

“I love being back here on the Forgotten Coast,” she said. “I love this area, so I’m just thrilled.

“I’m honored to be at this place (the buffer preserve) that protects and promotes this unique eco-system that you guys have here. It’s an amazing place. So I am very honored that this will be the last place that I’ll be.”

Booth is looking to possibly expand the tour. The tour is entirely self-funded and she is looking into the possibility of turning it into a non-profit. She is also in talks with different organizations to explore the possibilities of the future of the tour.

The tour will leave St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve Friday.

You can find out more information about the Splash Trash Tour and Bette Booth at http://www.splashtrashtour.com/.