Commissioner Ken Russell proclaims May 12, 2016 as "Henry West Lab 5th Grade Class Day" for their work in raising awareness of plastic trash in Biscayne Bay and taking action with shoreline cleanups. Story after the video.
I did a little unplanned cleanup while on vacation at Blue Springs State Park in Florida the other day when I discovered polystyrene pieces littered where tons of birds hang out just to the left of the canoe rental launch. Come to figure out that the foam pieces came from uncovered foam buoys that the park uses. I'm pretty surprised that a state park - a sanctuary for manatees and other wildlife - would make such an egregious decision on material, but I emailed the park manager and the result is those units are now out of the water and new encapsulated buoys have been ordered. Lesson - If you see something, say something.
We're not one to give up on a tough challenge, so when the Floatopia 'organizer' (this is an informal gathering spread via social media) contacted us again, said the next Floatopia would take place in Miami Beach in just a few weeks (September 5, 2015), and asked if we would help with eco-engagement, we immediately said yes. This Floatopia was going to be much different than the one in April.
MIAMI (September 8, 2015) - International Coastal Cleanup Day in Miami-Dade County is set to take place Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon at 40 different sites across the county. Organizers of the event, VolunteerCleanup.org, are expecting approximately 3,200 volunteers to collect five tons of trash and debris from 30 miles of coastline.
Every year, a very large unsanctioned / unpermitted event called Floatopia brings 2-3,000 people with pool floats to Miami Beach as a result of a very effective social media concept. Every year locals complain about the amount of litter that ends up on the beach and in the waters. This year, a couple eco-groups decided to do something about it and put a plan together to help mitigate the problem. A major undertaking to say the least. Read how it went below....
Some companies are doing amazing things. Method Soaps is one of them.
VolunteerCleanup.Org, SurfRider, and CleanUp Miami Beach recently partnered with Method Soaps to collect 50 cubic feet of #2, #3, and #5 plastics from the shorelines which will be turned into bottles. It took us 5 cleanups and about 2 months, but it was well worth it. You can check them out here : http://methodhome.com/beyond-the-bottle/ocean-plastic/
Method Soaps demonstrates that you can make a profit *and* do right at the same time. They have my loyalty and business from here on. You can find Method® Ocean Plastic 2-in-1 dish + hand soap at Whole Foods and Target (and I'm sure other fine retailers).
I got an email out of the blue from a 5th grade teacher who heard about my work. She had been teaching her students about trash in the waters, and and asked if I we could coordinate a cleanup for her 45 students. The plan ultimately evolved into a one hour presentation to the students and then a shoreline cleanup involving the students and their siblings / parents. We broke up into 3 teams : 1) plastic bottles, 2) rigid plastics for the Method Soap collection, and 3) trash. We picked up 40+ bags of trash and recyclables that the ocean spit out in a little over an hour. Honestly, this was the most fun I've had in a long time - especially knowing that none of these 45 kids will ever litter. This may be a new direction in my strategy.
You can see my presentation here :
On a personal note - many of you are aware that the kayak I use to cleanup trash from the bay was stolen, and there was a tremendous outpouring of support from so many people wanting to help me find a new one. I was fully planning on purchasing another newer better one myself, but 3 very dear friends who so believed in what I am doing sent unsolicited contributions which covered the cost of my new kayak and an electric motor to help me continue and improve my efforts. I am so incredibly humbled by their generosity, belief in me, and kind words about how much my work inspires them. This past weekends cleanup is dedicated to these very dear friends who probably don't want to be publically named. If anyone else wants to help, they can grab a few friends and I will help organize / host a trash cleanup - which is ultimately what this is all about anyway. I am debating a name for my new kayak now. I have come up with 'Change Maker', 'Trash-Yak', or 'Guardian of the Bay'. 'White Trash' and 'Ecoyak' were also possibilities. Standby for the final decision.
In a major win for environmental activists (including myself, Michael DeFilippi, Surfrider SoFla, and Biscayne Bay Water Keepers), The City of Miami Beach has voted UNANIMOUSLY to ban Polystyrene food takeout containers from Miami Beach parks and sidewalk cafes. City vendors and restaurants that operate on city sidewalks cannot use the product. The ban was sponsored by Commissioner Michael Grieco who said "“It’s terrible for the environment, it blows around the city, it breaks up, the chemicals are harmful, the wildlife and our fish … eat these things, and it’s time to get with the program". Miami Beach is the first city in Florida to enact such a prohibition. We even made the evening news : http://www.local10.com/news/commissioners-to-give-final-vote-on-banning-styrofoam-in-miami-beach/27110242
When you go to a doctor complaining of chest pains, he will say you probably have clogged arteries. But he won't know how bad it is until he cracks open your chest and sees the arteries. Well, someone video'ed the workers repairing one of the storm drains here in Miami Beach - and HOLY MOLEY !!!.. Watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmKB4TpFjaE
I shared this with the city and they will be installing a pilot of 3 storm drain grating covers to make sure they don't block the flow of water.