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Reserve your ‘clean up’ destination

By Staff | Aug 30, 2017

Carl Melamet, with Canterbury School, has participated numerous years with his students during the annual International Coastal Clean up. PHOTO PROVIDED

Now in it’s third decade, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is seeking volunteers to participate in the annual International Coastal Cleanup next month.

“I really like the fact that most of it is community turnout,” SCCF Living with Wildlife Educator Dee Serage-Century said, adding that it has become a ritual for many people. “It’s something that anyone can help with.”

Although, Serage-Century has a few groups that participate every year – Lexington Middle School, Zonta and Edison National Bank, she also sees a lot of returning families year after year. On average about 150 people register for the annual cleanup.

“It’s fun and a great way for people to take some action,” she said.

Everyone who registers will receive a scorecard, which needs to be filled out and returned to SCCF. Serage-Century said the scorecard breaks the trash into different categories. The trash collected can either be brought back to SCCF, or thrown away at an individual’s home because the important information is recorded on the scorecard.

Those interested in participating in this year’s cleanup are encouraged to register before the Saturday, Sept. 16 event to ensure they have the location they desire.

“They can pick the part of the beach that is meaningful for them, or where they like to walk,” she said.

Serage-Century has divided Sanibel and Captiva into 28 zones, just on the beach side of the island.

Early registration can be done by calling Serage-Century at 239-472-2329, or emailing her at dserage@sccf.org.

Registration can also be done the day of the event at the SCCF Nature Center, 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road, from 9 a.m. to noon. Lunch and snacks will be available at the SCCF Nature Center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Those who volunteer are encouraged to bring their own water and gloves.

According to the Ocean Conser-vancy, 10.5 million volunteers have cleaned 350,000 miles of shorelines over the past 30 years. Those miles contributed 192 million pounds of trash.

Locally and internationally the number one thing found on the beach are cigarette butts. Other common items include plastic beverage containers, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags and straws.

Plastic, Serage-Century said, is found in 62 percent of all sea bird species.

“If it’s floating they will eat it,” she said. “The chemicals used in plastic bottles goes back into the environment.”

Thankfully, every year the event produces less trash found on the beach, Serage-Century said. She said that’s a great testament to the island doing their part all year round.

“The sea turtle volunteers are people picking up garage all of the time,” she said of one of the groups that helps in making a difference.

With that said, Serage-Century said there is still plenty of garbage found in the mangroves. She said these areas are hard to get to, therefore making it difficult to clean.

“People with boats, if they want to help, that’s great,” Serage-Century said.

She said she’s hoping to give that special project to the Sanibel School youngsters. This year a couple of teachers from the school have shared their interest in participating.

SCCF has partnered with Ocean Conservancy and Keep Lee County Beautiful throughout the years in offering this event.