It’s Siesta’s turn for a little pick-me-up

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Annual World Ocean Day event, sponsored by local Realtor group and Mote Marine, is June 8 at the public beach

By Hannah Wallace

In an area famous for its beautiful beaches, debris is an unfortunate side effect of our popularity. Individual beachgoers may think a single, small discarded item could hardly sully our vast shorelines, but bottle caps, can tabs, cigarette butts and even metal confetti add up to a lot of junk on a daily basis.
Beach cleanup efforts — especially when paired with science education — are one way to stem this particular trash tide.
“It’s shocking how much garbage and debris we can pick up in such a short amount of time, with so many eyes looking for stuff,” said Meagan West-Jones, local president of the Women’s Council of Realtors Sarasota and CEO of the Coffey Group at Keller Williams.


On June 8, for the second year in a row, the Realtor group is promoting a World Ocean Day beach cleanup event to collect debris, spread information, and foster environmental enthusiasm among its members and the general public.
Last year’s Ocean Day event, which took place on Lido Beach, was part of the Council’s support for Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, its 2022 “Charity of Choice.” (The Council raised about $13,000 in total for Mote from a number of charity efforts throughout the year.) The Lido cleanup drew around 50 people, including kids and families.
And while the Council is supporting a different Charity of Choice for 2023, the group has officially partnered with Mote for this year’s Ocean Day cleanup, which will take place on Siesta Key public beach, starting at 7 a.m. at the Sand Pavilion, 948 Beach Rd.
Representatives from Mote will be on hand to provide information about the beaches and how litter affects them.
“I was shocked at how many bottle caps and tabs there are,” said West-Jones. “The number of cigarette butts, too. They have so many harmful chemicals in them, and they don’t break down.”
Metal confetti from parties, too, often gets left behind on local beaches. “People don’t think about that,” said West-Jones. “That’s not breaking down. If an animal ingests that, it can be really harmful.”
West-Jones noted that the Realtors can then take this information with them and share it with people who are interested in moving to Siesta Key and the Sarasota area in general. Their hope is that new residents will join them in protecting the local waterways.
“I don’t think of us as salespeople. We’re really advisors and consultants, helping people make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” she said. “Our duty is to be responsible stewards for the community.”
The public is encouraged to join the cleanup event on June 8 — and to continue those efforts year-round.
“We would love to have as many people as possible,” said West-Jones. “Who doesn’t love a great reason to be out on the beach with your toes in the sand, doing some good for the community?”

Participants in the June 8 beach cleanup will meet at the Sand Pavilion on Siesta Beach. (photo by David Geyer)
Hannah Wallace
Author: Hannah Wallace

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