Keeping Miami-Dade clean, one cleanup at a time
by Zach Schlein
As we approach the one-year anniversary of last year’s fish kill in Biscayne Bay and navigate a summer with record-breaking heat, the urgency of addressing climate change has never been more apparent. Daunting problems require creative solutions, which is why Oolite Arts invited Miami filmmakers to produce PSAs on how locals can do their part to preserve one of the 305’s most loved natural wonders.
You can watch the results for yourself next week during Save the Bay. The online broadcast will see Oolite Arts spotlight shorts by Helen Peña, Alexa Caravia, Milly Cohen, Shireen Rahimi, Jayme Gershen, and others imagining a better way of caring for Biscayne Bay moving forward. You can tune in to the stream via YouTube Live on Wednesday, July 28 at 7 p.m.
In honor of Save the Bay, The New Tropic has teamed up with Oolite Arts to spotlight the people and initiatives leading the charge on environmental issues here in Miami. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing stories detailing what’s being done to keep Biscayne Bay — and the 305 at large — vibrant and healthy for the longhaul.
Today, we’re highlighting one of the easiest ways you can contribute to keeping Miami-Dade clean: beach cleanups! Read on for a list of places and groups inviting folks to get their hands dirty for all the right reasons…
- Virginia Key is one of the most scenic places in all of Miami, and you have an opportunity to help keep it that way. Volunteers are invited once a month to meet at the Virginia Key Outdoor Center for a coastal cleanup and hike to North Point Beach. These sessions take place on the first Saturday of every month and you can RSVP in advance right here. As a bonus, the center provides a gear rental credit for every hour spent volunteering.
- The Surfrider Foundation is an international org dedicated to preserving the world’s beaches and looking after water quality. Fortunately for Miamians, the local chapter keeps things fun as well as sustainable. Surfrider’s recurring Mats Across the Sand event blends dune restoration and cleanup efforts with a group Yoga class. Be sure to keep an eye on Surfrider’s Instagram profile, online event calendar, and subscriber emails for updates; you can also contact [email protected] for more details on volunteer opportunities.
- This non-profit organization reclaims and recycles waste found around Miami to create plastic poetry pieces that highlight the problems posed by pollution. The group has previously collaborated with Miami Norland Senior High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, and O, Miami; you can support its efforts by buying from the online shop as well as keeping an eye on its Instagram page and official website for more volunteer opportunities. The org is planning to step up its efforts in the coming months with more cleanups as well as drop off points where people can recycle their plastics.
- MORAES — which stands for Marine Order for Research and Action through Environmental Stewardship — is an environmental research group dedicated to fostering collaboration between local marine ecologists and the larger community. The group has multiple projects underway and recently conducted an extensive cleanup of Darwin Beach — including the removal of exotic invasive plants — in collaboration with the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School & Miami Seaquarium. Look out for future events on social media and the official MORAES website.
- Clean Miami Beach lives up to its titular mission; earlier this year, 60 volunteers picked up 300 lbs of trash in just one hour during a cleanup. The group also shares general environmental and conservation tips via its Instagram page; if you aren’t already following, go ahead and change that now. According to Clean Miami Beach’s event calendar, weekly volunteer cleanups are currently on pause for summer and will resume in September. This should give you plenty of time to plan ahead and schedule when you’ll be helping them out with their noble cause. 😉
- Last but certainly not least, this website makes searching for cleanups happening near you a simple, seamless process. Just enter your zip code and voila: you should see a handful of events and dates taking place in your vicinity. One recurring gathering that caught our eye are the weekly beach cleanups at Bill Baggs State Park, but there are many more where that came from. You can even organize a cleanup yourself, making VolunteerCleanup.Org a formidable tool in the fight for a cleaner 305.
Although it’s not quite a cleanup, Miami Waterkeeper’s volunteer 1,000 Eyes on the Water program is invaluable for looking after our local waters. Interested participants can sign up for training on how to spot signs of pollution as well as how to report it. Even if cleanups aren’t necessarily your forte, initiatives like these make it possible for every Miamian to play a part in looking after our surroundings.