Collaboration Cleanup: Working Together for Cleaner Beaches

Brooke Wilensky, Copy Editor

On Saturday, April 9, Volunteering Miami hosted its first Collaboration Cleanup alongside Earth SOS Miami, Clean Aqua, Lavender Ribbon Initiative, Uplift Operation, Pick it Up Mission and Turtle Team at Matheson Hammock Park.

After attending multiple beach cleanups in the past, Miami Palmetto Senior High junior and CEO of Volunteering Miami, Lorenzo Castillo-Rios, noticed a problem: only small groups of people would show up to each cleanup.

“I spoke to a few of my staff members and environmental action organizations and I asked them: how can we change this? How can we make our beach cleanups have a true and genuine large impact on the environment? And that’s when it came to us, we were like ‘wow, we should do a collaboration cleanup,’” Castillo-Rios said.

The Collaboration Cleanup satisfied the goal, as 100 volunteers collected 372.4 pounds of trash.

“A lot of it was tiny microplastics like bottle caps, and we even found rusty old pipes in the mangroves. An impact like that would not have been possible without that many volunteers,” Castillo-Rios said.

Besides cleaning up trash, organizers ensured that they used compostable bags and gloves to minimize the amount of waste.

Each volunteer received a trash bag and joined a small group to explore Matheson Hammock Park and clean up trash.

Clean Aqua, one of the collaborators, had a large turnout and looks forward to doing it again.

“We saw a lot of people wearing their merch, representing our organization. It was just really nice to have everyone, all these different groups come together,” MPSH junior and Vice President of Clean Aqua Ruben Behar said.

Clean Aqua hosts beach cleanups every month — at the Collaboration Cleanup, they collected over double the amount of trash they normally do.

“We had [been] doing our cleanups at Matheson for a while now and we have gotten decent turnouts, but this Collaboration Cleanup really helped us get a lot more [people],” Behar said.

Turtle Team feels the same as Clean Aqua; they enjoyed cleaning up trash in a more social setting.

“We were just on the beach picking up trash.. It was just kind of a social thing too,” MPSH sophomore and Turtle Team Ambassador Morgan Shapiro said. 

Castillo-Rios plans on hosting another Collaboration Cleanup in the near future after seeing the success of their first event.