Remember last week when I told y'all I'd be participating in the Texas General Land Office's Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup? Guess how many Texans did their part in making sure we have safe beaches now and in the future... 11,665 Texans! All of us together picked up 207 TONS of marine debris which broke the record for the largest coastal cleanup under Adopt-A-Beach ever, how awesome is that!?
With over 5,000 Texans on Galveston Island alone, we stayed more inland to do our part in cleaning Horsepen Bayou which at our meet-up location boarders a high school, running trails, roadways, and housing communities. Yes, the shoreline of the beach is very important to clean, but trash ends up way beyond the edge of the Gulf, sneaking into small waterways gathering and not being as noticed - but remember this area still considered to be coastline.
Horsepen Bayou was really beautiful to see, with wildlife conservation efforts seen on the banks. We saw dozens of jumping fish, (a small alligator we think), squirrels, a snake, large freshwater snails, cranes and other types of birds, and of course the popular mosquitoes of Houston. Even with my swollen ankle I was still able to do my part!
With as gorgeous as this bayou was, it had SO much trash! We found some really interesting pieces along our walk on the bank:
4 softballs (all from the same team), large metal pole (we bent it an used it to clean out the grassy areas of the bayou), dozens of styrofoam cups, mason jar, Crown Royal bottle, newspapers still in their plastic bags, bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, etc.
It was great to participate in another cleanup to support Adopt-A-Beach since my last one was back in the summer of 2007 on Galveston Island, and that was a great experience. I do however have a couple recommendations for what it's worth if anything could be structured better for the next cleanup as more people participate and the event gets bigger. Not every cleanup site is as popular as Galveston, but every site should still give off the same participation appreciation from coordinators to keep aligned with the movement.
>> High school volunteers need a location coordinator who will actually check and respond to emails.
My brother needed to get into contact with our coordinators to confirm him participating so he could get service hours for NHS and we never heard from them via phone call or email, which made me have to contact the lead volunteer coordinator for the program.
>> Lunch/snacks and drinks should be provided at every site.
Being in the sun from 9AM - 12PM picking up trash makes you tired and really hungry/thirsty! It'd be more convenient to have food and cold (our water bottles were just sitting out) drinks provided at the meet-up location so we don't have to drive somewhere all dirty and sweaty.
>> What happened to the Adopt-A-Beach T-shirts?
Back in 2007 we got a free aqua blue Adopt-A-Beach T-shirt for volunteering, would've liked to proudly show off a shirt for volunteering this year. I guess either the cost is too large for the number of volunteers now, or Shell Oil decided to take that over, or at our cleanup site we just weren't given one. From a marketing perspective free T-shirts are more than a word-of-mouth marketing asset, they're a quiet informer wherever it is worn to those who get a glance at it.
>> Organize cleanup sub-sites where kayaks, canoes, and SUP boards can launch on the waterways and get to the hard-to-reach trash!
This would be a great outreach effort to get kayakers, fishers, SUP boarders, canoers involved in protecting the waters they love! It could be as easy as 'Bring Your Own Kayak, Canoe, or SUP board' and the program provides plastic trash grabbers to use to reach out on the water to get the trash.
Overall, it was a great event though and the dedication of all the volunteers to take the time out of their schedules to make sure we have clean beaches and protect marine wildlife is truly amazing. I would recommend participating in any Adopt-A-Beach cleanup if you haven't done one before! Check out the program's site here.
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