To celebrate National Estuaries Week, CBA is teaming with Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup to ensure swimmable, fishable, trash-free waters in our beautiful estuary. Choctawhatchee Bay is the center of our community whose economy depends on her beautiful waters and abundant marine life. Whether you're a fisherman, birder, paddleboarder, or restaurant owner, you understand the importance of our watershed. We’re empowering volunteers to hit sites in their community where trash is overlooked or misplaced. We welcome everyone in the Panhandle region to participate, as this will be a “Do-it-yourself” cleanup between September – October.
1. Pick a Location:
- Identify a safe location to clean where social distancing is easily achievable.
- Avoid crowded sites by going during non-peak hours.
2. Download the Clean Swell app and create an account.
Ocean Conservancy created “Clean Swell”, a mobile app that enables volunteers to log the trash they find directly into the world’s largest marine debris database. This database is used by scientists, conservation groups, governments, and industry leaders to assess marine debris hotspots and stop marine debris at its source.
- Be sure to “Allow” location services while using the app.
3. Gather Materials.
- COVID-19 related Personal Protective Equipment (masks and gloves) and hand sanitizer
- grabbers, trash bags, closed-toed shoes, and a reusable water bottle.
- Your smartphone or tablet
- Sunscreen, Bug spray, and Hand sanitizer
4. Rally your buddy or team on whatever day works best for you between September – October.
6. When logging into Clean Swell, please type in “Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance” in the "Group" section. This will be the only way our team can see what you’ve submitted and give us the opportunity to pull a report of all the volunteer data. Please don’t let your hard work go unnoticed!
7. Record your data as you clean up. It’s easiest to have one person designated as the data collector. Take a picture or two that you’d be willing to pass along when we put out a call for photos. Hashtags to use for your cleanup photos: #BasinAlliance, #CBAfortheBay, and #CleanOn
9. Review and submit your data. Follow steps on the Clean Swell app to review and submit your data. Data automatically submit to Ocean Conservancy’s database when you see a “Thank You!” screen.
10. Make sure your trash bags make it to a proper trash receptacle.
- Properly dispose of items collected - Do not place trash in overflowing bins.
- Immediately and thoroughly sanitize any gear.
11. Celebrate a job well done!
Recommended Cleanup Locations
The best recommendation we can make is to get outside and execute a cleanup in any way you can. No effort is too small because the smallest pieces of debris and microplastics can persist in our environment for long periods of time, harming both wildlife and humans. Cigarette butts and cigar tips, plastic fragments, food wrappers, bottle caps, straws, and Styrofoam pieces are some of the biggest culprits. So think simply and look closely for this cleanup!
Here are some location recommendations that might help you execute an impactful cleanup where you live:
- Your neighborhood
- Your surrounding shorelines (saltmarsh grasses can trap debris)
- A local park
- A beach