St. Petersburg – The first time you look at Spa Beach you may not see the need for a deep cleaning but once you start looking closely and digging into the sand, you will soon find yourself surrounded by trash. According to 5-year-old volunteer Claire James, there were pants in the grass, empty bottles, cigarette “bottom” and large chunks of wood improperly strewn across the beach.

Claire along with her brother, grandparents and a small group of volunteers gathered together on Saturday to spruce up the waterfront along the St. Petersburg beaches. This cleanup project is a week-long and they will be focusing on the waterfronts from North Shore Park to Demens Landing. Next week the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit will be making its way towards the city and they are planning to clean up the waterfront beforehand.

More than 450 people from 27 different civic city groups signed up to collect trash along the shore and waterways on Saturday and Sunday. They plan to collect every soda can and plastic bag that has washed away on the sand or in the water anywhere from Shell Key to Weeden Island. Volunteers will be out on foot and in canoes or kayaks to collect trash from all around the waterways.

As the Hollywood starts and marine scientists begin rolling into town for the film festival, the city wants to be prepared and give the visitors a clean welcome mat. The speakers and film makers will mostly focus on major issues such as climate change, declining fisheries and waste disposal but they are also looking to take small steps toward protecting the water, not just in St. Petersburg, but everywhere.

For most St. Petersburg residents, keeping the beaches and waterways clean is a great opportunity to teach their children and grandchildren about the importance of protecting the planet. Carol Whaley, a lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, said she always takes a bag with her to the beach, so she can collect garbage during her outing. Her 5 year old granddaughter Claire has also taken a liking to cleaning the beaches and now she makes everyone around her pick up garbage in and around the city.

The Downtown Waterfront Parks Foundation was responsible for Saturday’s cleanup effort. The foundation is comprised of a group of city residents and businesspeople looking to raise money along with awareness to keep the downtown shoreline beautiful and clean. The group’s leader is hoping to gather funds to start a private beautification project focused on keeping the waterfront clean and clear of all rubbish. The city just simply doesn’t have it in their budget to keep up with the trash.

Keeping the waterways and beaches clean are important for maintaining a high property value and great economy. St. Petersburg is blessed to have many different public and private beaches in the city and it is up to the community to keep the area clean for future generations. Everyone should follow in the Whaley’s footsteps in taking strides to cleaning the area of all rubbish. Feel free to comment below with your opinions or suggestions regarding protecting the waterways and cleaning beaches.

Story Via: The St. Petersburg Tribune