Volunteer organization cleans up pollution on beaches

Jacqueline Michaud

South Bureau Chief

Starting in 2007, after kayaking on his local bay, VolunteerCleanup.org founder Dave Doebler said, “I started noticing a lot of trash floating in the water- mainly plastic bottles, Styrofoam and cigarette butts. I was no longer able to just float around and enjoy my Sunday afternoon kayaks, and I had to do something about it. Bucket in hand, I would pick pieces out of the water and soon enough I decided to get serious about this and make a real impact.” 

Over a decade later, on a determined crusade to fight against marine debris and single-use plastics polluting the coastlines, VolunteerCleanup.org was created and has since conducted hundreds of coastal cleanups in Broward and Miami. 

The organization schedules monthly local beach sweeps in various area codes for people to come out and help save the planet- one coastline at a time. Last September, the organization hosted the International Coastal Cleanup Day Impact, where they organized Miami-Dade’s participation in the global, 33rd annual International Coastal Cleanup. 

It is their fourth year leading the event, with the most recent cleanup churning the biggest turnout ever- with close to 3,000 volunteers removing nearly 15,000 pounds of marine debris from 49 different shoreline locations across Miami-Dade. 

One of the volunteers, Raymond Milhomme, a Miami native, said, “I’ve been doing beach sweeps for almost 10 years now. When I see us all band together to fight for the health of the environment, it gives me hope for a cleaner world for our future generations.”

VolunteerCleanup.org is always looking for new volunteers and have upcoming beach sweeps scheduled monthly. Potential volunteers can subscribe to their monthly newsletter and see the upcoming coastline cleanup dates. If none of the scheduled beach sweeps fit your schedule, volunteers can lead their own teams and organize their own cleanups on days they are available. 

VolunteerCleanup.org not only helps take care of the oceans, aquatic marine life and environment, but they help make it fun for the volunteers who participate. To date, VolunteerCleanup.org has done 995 cleanups, has 8,147 volunteers, clocked 73,340 volunteer hours and removed 199,000 pounds of debris from our local beaches. 

Going one step further, the organization has even made a list of gift ideas that protect the environment. Volunteer.org recommends eco-friendly gifts such as the Final Straw, the original and reusable, collapsible straw and the Cora Ball- the world’s first microfiber catching laundry ball that helps to stop microfibers from washing down the drain into the public waterways, as well as many more.

For more information on how you can participate in the upcoming beach sweeps, visit http://www.volunteercleanup.org to search for cleanups near you. 

There you can sign up for weekly notifications of upcoming local cleanups and support the organization’s work by donating money or materials for their cause. 

You may also contact founders Dara Schoenwald at dara@volunteercleanup.org or Doebler at dave@volunteercleanup.org to see how you can help.


Photo: Volunteers help pick up liter during a recent VolunteerCleanup.org clean up. Courtesy of VolunteerCleanup.org