In early April, volunteers fanned out across Okaloosa Island to collect marine debris and plastic pollution along both the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay shorelines. Sponsored by CBA, Saltwater Restaurants, Inc., and the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Department, with partnerships with United Way and the Boys and Girls Club, the multi-location event resulted in the proper disposal of plastic water bottles, half-of-a-bicycle, over 8,500 cigarette butts, and so much more.
Coastal cleanups, says Alex Fogg, the Marine Resource Coordinator for Okaloosa County “are a great benefit to the community. Not only do they result in cleaner beaches, but they bring visitors and locals together on a common cause.” He continues, “This year in particular, we had a significantly larger number of participants, which allowed us to plan for another location besides just the beach.”
“The Gulf Islands National Seashore site,” he explains, “was selected due to trash and debris that had been observed and was a result of last season’s storms. Sites like this usually do not receive much attention when it comes to volunteer cleanup events, but this year’s event demonstrated that with surplus volunteers, these less commonly cleaned destinations can be targeted, resulting in greater event impact.”
Just a few weeks later, CBA teamed up with the City of Destin to host a similar clean-up event on Norriego Point. Over thirty volunteers participated on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, focusing on the small items that can make a big impact: fishing line, glass, and cigarette butts. Together, the clean-up events both restored our beaches while educating the visitors and locals about the importance of proper trash disposal and Leave No Trace.