By Mary Hladky
Many Boca Raton beach-goers make it a point to help keep the beaches clean by picking up trash and plastics on the sand and disposing of them.
But now the city has made it easier to do so. They no longer need to bring trash bags with them when visiting the beaches for a stroll or swim.
The new Community Coastal Clean Up program provides metal buckets next to signs explaining the program at Red Reef, Spanish River and South Beach parks.
Simply pick up a bucket, put debris inside, dump it in green trash cans along the beach and return the bucket.
“It’s more about education and awareness,” said City Council member Monica Mayotte, who has long brought compostable bags with her on her beach visits.
“You can pick up stuff around where you are sitting. Every little bit helps.”
Ocean pollution, especially by plastics, has gained a lot of attention in recent years.
A report from the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that 165 million tons of plastics are in the oceans. By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastics than fish by weight if nothing changes.
Much of the plastic ends up in gigantic garbage patches floating in the oceans, including one the size of Texas.
Sea birds, fish, turtles and other marine life ingest it and die. Or they get tangled up in the plastics, leaving them unable to eat or swim.
Boca Raton provided a recent example. On Oct. 1, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center posted a photo on Facebook that went viral of a baby turtle that had washed ashore. A necropsy found that the hatchling had ingested 104 small pieces of plastic.
This incident isn’t unusual. A Gumbo Limbo staff member told Live Science that staffers see this every day.
Gumbo Limbo, along with the city’s Recreation Services Department and Ocean Rescue, created the cleanup program and the city began promoting it on its website in November.
The buckets are located by lifeguard tower 4 in South Beach Park, lifeguard tower 9 in Red Reef Park and lifeguard tower 16 in Spanish River Park.