Volunteers at the sign-up tent of last year’s After the 4th Cleanup, which is also where they can get supplies on the morning of this year’s cleanup.

The Fourth of July is one of the biggest holidays of the year for the U.S., a celebration of our nation, but people can get carried away with their explosively colorful festivities, leaving behind lots of leftovers from fireworks and other litter.

That’s why, to go along with the holiday, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) hosts a cleanup with volunteers each year to collect all the land debris. This year, in partnership with Freedom Boat Club, KTBB will host its After the 4th Cleanup on Wednesday, July 5. It will be held from 8-11 a.m. at Davis Islands Boat Ramp, located at 801-1399 Severn Ave. in Tampa.

KTBB will provide all the cleaning supplies, with Freedom Boat Club being on-site to hand them out and sign-in volunteers. Closed-toe shoes will be required, and it’s recommended to bring sunscreen, a reusable water bottle and a hat or sunglasses. Promotional giveaways are available as well while supplies last.

“Eighty percent of the trash on land actually ends up in the water, and that’s why we try to get to it quick … because it will just blow right off of the trails and into the water, and then it harms the wildlife, it harms the ecosystem and it’s just a downward slope from there,” said Kira Baker, environmental projects manager with KTBB.

Last year, this cleanup had 109 volunteers, who removed 3,300 lbs. of trash; in 2021, 60 volunteers removed 2,125 lbs.; and in 2020, 167 volunteers removed 4,375 lbs. Each volunteer helps significantly in reducing the litter that clutters the area and stopping it from getting into our waterways.

“The Volunteers, I mean, they’re so amazing. They’re there because they want to be there, and they look forward to these events,” said Debbie Evenson, executive director of KTBB. “They’re disgusted when they pick up this stuff because we shouldn’t have to, but we do. We do it because we care. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

With the mission of promoting a culture of environmental stewardship through volunteer and educational opportunities, KTBB also hosts numerous other events, such as its upcoming 32nd annual Tropical Nights gala, Ragan Park Tree Planting and Cleanup, Hillsborough River & Coastal Cleanup and more.

For more information about the After the 4th Cleanup or to register, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/keep-tampa-bay-beautifuls-after-the-4th-cleanup-tickets-648184686847. To learn more about KTBB, its events, or how to help, visit www.keeptampabaybeautiful.org.

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Taylor Wells
Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.