Celebrate Earth Day on the Emerald Coast with these cleanup events
Earth Day on the Gulf Coast is being celebrated with a series of beach and inland cleanups to try to give the local ecosystem a leg up before the busy tourist season.
Earth Day falls on Friday, with most cleanup events taking place the following day. Times and locations are listed at the bottom of this article.
Alex Fogg, coastal resource manager for Okaloosa, boasts that they expect to have over 500 participants at the county’s six-location event on Saturday.
“There are a lot of people who come to our beaches, love our beaches, and inherently a lot of trash accumulates. The day after Earth Day we are going to be cohosting a large beach cleanup across Okaloosa County beaches.”
Fogg says Earth Day in the area didn’t always look this impressive.
“When we took over the Earth Day cleanups back in ‘16 or 2017 it had kind of been floundering around for about a decade, but when we started organizing with our partners and made it a bigger event: We went from around 100 participants to over 500 throughout all of our locations.”
Fogg said participants can expect to have a great time cleaning up the land and connecting with like-minded individuals, and only need to bring some basic supplies to participate. Supplies also will be provided for those who need them.
“Come out, expect to have a good time, hope for some good weather," Fogg said. "Bring gloves, bring water, and we’d prefer you bring a reusable item like a bucket that can be rinsed out afterwards so we aren’t actually producing more trash in the process.”
Events are open to the public and a great way to engage children about the importance of preserving a pristine environment free from litter.
“This event is for all ages, and there are multiple locations for the cleanup and more information about that can be found on the DestinFWB.com website, which will link you to the different locations where you’ll meet, pick up supplies, sign in, and then go out and collect trash,” Fogg said.
The trash that is collected will then be recorded and analyzed by the county.
“Once you’ve collected trash you can bring it back and we will sort and weigh it to see how much trash was collected during the weekend," he said. "The idea is that once the trash is brought back we will sort it, whether it be fishing line, restaurant trash, or just general trash. We get a lot of sand toys but the most common item is cigarette butts.”
These cleanup events are critical not only to preserve the beauty of our beaches, but also help environmental scientists to better understand the issue of pollution via global data collection.
“So we can take that information and put it into a number of apps online. There are groups all across the world who conduct beach cleanups or land cleanups during Earth Day, they all put it into one big system and they compile all that data to create reports on what was collected.”
According to Fogg, there’s never been a better time to take a hands-on approach to solving pollution.
“Doing these events once in a while really helps to keep our beaches clean,” he said.
In addition to Okaloosa County, Escambia County will host an Earth Day event with live music, plant-based food vendors, garden displays, and child friendly activities.
Earth Day Events
The Earth Day Cleanup Event will run from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday.
- The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island (1450 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach)
- The Crab Trap, Destin (3500 Scenic U.S. 98 E, Destin)
- Henderson Beach State Park (17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin)
- Norriego Point (1 Gulf Shore Drive, Destin) – (Beach and PaddleBoard Cleanup)
- Joe’s Bayou/Mattie Kelly Park (825 Beach Drive, Destin)
- Surf Hut, Miramar Beach (551 Scenic Gulf Drive, Destin)
Earth Day Fort Walton Beach will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, at Liza Jackson Park, 38 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548.
Earth Day Pensacola will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, at Bayview Park, 2001 East Lloyd St., Pensacola, FL 32503.
What is the event?
- Live music and entertainment, Pensacola Arts Market, plant-based food vendors, garden display, and children’s activities.
- Exhibits featuring local businesses and nonprofit organizations who are making positive differences in Pensacola.
- Educational resources for festivalgoers to learn how individual and collective choices beyond Earth Day impact our environment both locally and globally.
Pensacola Beach Earth Day, presented by the Positive Vibrations Foundation, is 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at 2 Via De Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach, FL 3256. The beginning of the event is family friendly and open to the public.
- 8:30 a.m.: Family Beach Yoga
- 9:30 a.m. : Raw, Organic, Live Greens Meal Prep
- 9:30 a.m. : Mindful Beach Walk and Beach Cleanup
- 10:30 a.m. : The Turtle Ambassador Volunteer Advocacy & Education Group Talk