What started as her 8-year-old daughter’s innocent question – “What if everyone just picked up one bag of trash per day?” – has become a self-described “trash crusade” for Jacksonville Beach resident Tobi Myers-Browning.
Inspired by her daughter’s idea, Myers-Browning recently started a campaign to pick up a bag of trash every single day for 365 days and post about it on a blog. Coastal Conscience, an environmental conservation group, officially kicked off April 9 with a beach cleanup on Jacksonville Beach in lieu of a launch party.
“We’re basically just a group of people who are looking out for the here and now – things that we can do to protect our coastlines and our natural Florida so that they’re going to be here for our children and their children,” said Myers-Browning, who refers to Coastal Conscience volunteers as ambassadors.
Although the organization is new, it is already raising awareness. Myers-Browning has been approached by Beaches residents curious about what she is doing and wanting to get involved. From others, she has received a lot of thanks.
“It’s not for us,” she said. “It’s for our community.”
Trash, as Myers-Browning is quickly finding out, can pose serious health and safety risks for unsuspecting beachgoers. Glass and condoms are among some of the common items she comes across. Plastic is also a number one find - in fact, Myers-Browning mentioned in one of her blog posts that “it is difficult to walk down any of our local beaches without finding plastic.” She and her daughter recently stumbled upon one of the most bizarre finds of their trash crusade yet - part of a possible Cuban refugee raft that washed ashore in the Guana Preserve on or around April 19.Sometimes, Myers-Browning and the group, which is currently comprised of her three daughters and herself, walk along Third Street to pick up trash before it becomes beach trash. She takes photos of what she finds and puts them on the website to raise awareness. She also posts to the Coastal Conscience facebook page using the hashtag #gettrashy2016.
In addition to Myers-Browning’s daily trash-pickup dedication, the group is going to host a group clean-up in different areas up and down the coastal areas of the First Coast including Vilano, Ponte Vedra, Neptune, Atlantic and Mayport. Volunteers are welcome. Coastal Conscience held a group clean-up day on April 23 at Helen Cooper Floyd Park in celebration of Earth Day.
“I don’t expect everybody in Jacksonville or in the beaches area to drop everything that they have and come out and pick up a bag of trash with me every single day, but if one person could do it once a month, or even once a quarter, that’s one bag of trash that’s off the ground,” Myers-Browning noted.