By Tamas Mondovics
Area residents are once again urged to put on their volunteer hats and join one of the largest environmental improvement and cleanup events of the year.
As part of the International Coastal Cleanup, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) will host the annual Hillsborough River and Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, September 16 at various sites along the Hillsborough River, Alafia River, Little Manatee River, Lake Thonotosassa and other waterways throughout Hillsborough County.
According to KTBB officials, unlike a typical litter removal event, the coastal cleanup offers the opportunity for volunteers to engage in vital international research activities by taking on the role of “Scientist for a Day.”
With more than 83 sites along Tampa Bay waterways, nearby parks and roadways in Hillsborough County, KTBB had nearly 5,000 volunteers take part in the effort last year and remove 128,265 lbs. (that’s 64 tons) of litter and debris.
During the clean up, volunteers collect items and record the data to identify the number and type of littered items, the overall tonnage of debris removed from each site and the amount of recyclable materials diverted from ending up in our landfills.
KTBB officials emphasized that the data collected is used to determine future requirements for cleanup initiatives, assess projects that are needed in the area and develop awareness of these needs within the local communities who share these waterways. Date is shared with Keep America Beautiful, the Ocean Conservancy as well as local officials to help provide a local and global perspective. In 2016, KTBB boasted of a total of 16,000 volunteers who have worked more than 48,000 hours in service at nearly 1,000 cleanup, beautification and recycling projects and events.
Upcoming KTBB events include Hillsborough River & Coastal Cleanup (September 16), Recycle Regatta (November 18), Annual Awards Breakfast (December 6), Tropical Nights Gala (March 23, 2018) and The Great American Cleanup (April 28, 2018).