International coastal Cleanup Day Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Residents from all across South Florida made a huge impact last weekend in response to the ever growing call to save Florida beaches, and combat global warming.

Tons of trash were removed from Miami Beaches extending all the way up to Fort Lauderdale. The worldwide mission launched by the Ocean Conservancy nonprofit 36 years ago is bigger and more urgent than ever, involving 160 countries.

“It’s grown tremendously,” said J.P. Brooker, the Florida Conservation Director for Ocean Conservancy. “I’ve been with Ocean Conservancy for eight years, and in those eight years I’ve seen more turnout, more care, more passion about Florida’s ocean and coasts.”

More than 50 cleanups were held all over Miami Dade, and Broward Counties. In Broward County, the Surfrider Foundation and Sun of a Beach Cleanup were out on Fort Lauderdale Beach along with the Trashy Girls Collective and the Parrot Lounge.

Debris Free Oceans collected 200 pounds of trash in Virginia Key, and Clean Miami Beach also had a big haul, scouring the shore behind the Eden Roc hotel with the help of 77 volunteers.

“We picked up 284 pounds of trash,” Clean Miami Beach founder Sophie Ringel said. “Miami, we need to stop littering!”

“It’s hard to understand why someone would leave plastic or any other kind of garbage on the beach,” said Adam Blalock, Deputy Secretary for Ecosystems Restoration for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Still, 80% of the litter found in our bay and oceans comes from land-based sources.

According to Ocean Conservancy, the top five items picked up from this year’s cleanups were:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Bottle caps
  • Food wrappers
  • Water and soda bottles
  • Plastic bags

It’s the scourge of our wildlife, as we’ve lost an unprecedented 937 manatees so far this year. Most of them are starving to death as their food source disappears, acres of seagrass gone because of pollution.

The good news is that more and more people are waking up and the eco-army is growing.

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