The Ocean Conservancy will hold its annual International Coastal Cleanup along beaches around the globe Sept. 15, with volunteers gathering to perform the cleansing ritual on Mexico Beach and St. Joe Beach.
Volunteers will gather 9:30 a.m. ET at the beach access point at the intersection of County 386 and U.S. 98 near the county line and across from the Lookout Lounge.
Sections of the beach will be assigned, trash bags, gloves and a sheet to document everything found, provided.
All trash bags will be securely placed at the nearest beach receptacle to be picked up by the public works departments from Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe.
“All residents are invited to come out and pick up trash while keeping track of what they find to help,” said Melina Elum, who has coordinated the cleanup the past few years.
“That helps the Ocean Conservancy document how much and what kind of trash is being left behind on our beaches.”
Every item picked-up is documented, from cigarette butts to plastic and glass bottles to plastic straws.
This year the first 50 volunteers will be given, instead of t-shirts of the past, a box of paper straws, donated by Nancy Jones and her partner, who operate a business called Flyaway which sells paper straws to restaurants.
A percentage of straw sales are donated to the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center.
“We have found it a great way to get the word out about changing our habits to help the Earth,” Jones said. “Looks like we are part of the coastal cleanup and we didn’t realize it.”
There is reward at the end of the cleanup.
After all is picked up there will be refreshments and drawings for original beach art donated by members of the Art & Soul Painters’ group from St. James’ Episcopal Church.
“The international cleanup engages people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways, identify the source of debris and change the behaviors,: Elum said. “Any effort to remove (trash) will benefit the environment and improve the beach aesthetic.”
The cleanup will continue until 11 a.m. ET.
In the event of inclement weather, the cleanup will take place at the same time and place Saturday, Sept. 22.
Visit the Ocean Conservancy’s website oceanconservancy.org for more information on the international effort.
For questions or more information about the local cleanup, contact Elum at firstname.lastname@example.org.