By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- Slather on some sunscreen, throw on some old sneakers, and join up with thousands of others around Martin County on Sept. 21 for this year's International Coastal Cleanup.
Cities all over the world will be coming together that day in an effort to beautify the Earth's oceans and waterways and Martin County is no exception.
Passionate ocean advocates will gather, grab some supplies, and get to work scouring the beaches and riverbeds for litter and waste that doesn't belong.
Keep Martin Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, has organized the local Coastal Cleanup event for 18 years in an effort to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the community.
It's the same organization that runs the Adopt-a-Road and Adopt-a-Beach programs and Extreme Martin Makeover.
"We're trying to create a more beautiful and clean community for everyone," said Jessica Layne, outreach coordinator for KMB.
KMB coordinates the local cleanup, providing supplies and collecting data from cleanup volunteers. KMB will then share their findings, along with cleanup crews around the world, with the Ocean Conservancy, the education and outreach organization that established the international event. They will then use the information to identify the sources of the litter and try to change the behaviors that cause pollution.
It's a way to beautify beaches and riverbeds as well as protect birds and marine life by removing debris like cigarette butts, soda bottles and food wrappers. It's an important effort for a waterfront community, according to Ms. Layne.
"If you live in Martin County you are impacted by our local waterways," said Ms. Layne. "This is one tangible way to make a difference year round."
Anyone can participate, no matter what age or city of residence, but first they need to register. Registration is free and ensures that all the waterways in Martin County are being attended to.
"If there's water, we want volunteers there," Ms. Layne said.
Stuart Beach will be the main location for last-minute volunteers, but she recommends getting together with a group of friends, family, colleagues or fellow students to pick a favorite waterway or location and adopt it for the day.
Last year more than 2,000 people participated and collected more than 20,100 pounds of litter and debris.
The post cleanup celebration will take place at Flagler Park where food, drinks and family fun activities will be provided as a way to thank volunteers for their hard work.
Volunteers can register by calling KMB at (772)781-1222 or by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The International Coastal Cleanup will run from 8 a.m. to noon.