About

Contact info:

Dara Schoenwald: dara@volunteercleanup.org

Dave Doebler: dave@volunteercleanup.org

My Research and Findings Presentations :
- Documenting Trash in Miami Beach Waterways
Clogged Storm Drains are Contributing to Flooding
Presentation to Elementary and Middle School Students


Hi, I'm Dave. I became interested in the plastic mess in our oceans in 2007 when I learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. As I was kayaking in my local bay, I started noticing a lot of trash floating in the water - mainly plastic bottles, styrofoam, and cigarette butts. I was no longer able to just float around and enjoy my Sunday afternoon kayaks, and I had to do something about it. Bucket in hand, I would pick pieces out of the water and soon enough I decided to get serious about this and make a real impact.

I discovered that a canal leading to the bay was an opportune place to catch the trash before it made it out into the bay, so I started focusing my efforts here (I am one for efficiency and effectiveness). I would pull out 50 pounds worth of stuff in a 1.5 mile stretch of canal. What I found was unacceptable, so I became even more motivated.

Dave loaded down in his kayak

I decided to start a research project and document my findings so that I could show what I see every Sunday. My plan was an 8 week cleanup of the same 1.5 mile stretch of canal every Sunday.  I would photo document my 'catch', quantify the material, and try to find the hot spots so that hopefully I could engage my local city government to do something about it. You can see my findings here.

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My girlfriend Dara and I attended massive beach cleanups and we led our own cleanup at the yearly International Coastal Cleanup Day, but the constant flow of garbage required a different strategy. We didn't need 50 people cleaning up a 4 block stretch of beach in one quarterly event - we needed 10 groups of 5 people cleaning up different areas. Divide and conquer. We started meeting a number of individual people like us organizing impromptu cleanups on their own. Great people just getting their friends together through Facebook and cleaning up a stretch of coastline or mangroves. Backbreaking work, but really effective (and rewarding). Friends would comment on their FB posts 'Let me know when the next one is?' or people passing by would ask 'how can I get involved?'. 

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Wouldn't it be great if there was a platform where people could build teams, communicate with each other, and organize their own events? How about a place where a volunteer could find a local cleanup and volunteer a couple hours of their time? How about a place where students or businesses could organize their own folks to clean up a section of their neighborhood - whether in the water, on the coastline, or on land. We couldn't find such a platform, so Dara and I created VolunteerCleanup.org...

Grab a bag, rally some friends, put on a pair gloves, and go clean up your neighborhood. No one else is going to do it.