As every Texan knows, there are miles and miles of Texas. The same is true for Texas beaches. And while everybody loves the beach, not everyone respects the beach. Every year, beachgoers leave tons of trash on Texas beaches and even more washes up from the Gulf of Mexico, or from streams and rivers. Every year, the Texas General Land Office leads the charge to keep the beaches clean.
This year, the 26th Annual Texas General Land Office Adopt-A-Beach Fall Cleanup saw more than 9,316 volunteers pitch in and remove 153 tons of trash from 29 sites along 186 miles of Texas coast.
Galveston County, a popular spot for beachgoers, saw the most volunteers and the most trash. Some 3,432 volunteers picked up 114,250 pounds of trash from 58 miles of Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island, and the John M. O' Quinn 1-45 Estuarial Corridor (Bay).
Shell Oil played a large part in the 26th Annual Texas General Land Office Adopt-A-Beach Fall Cleanup. Photo courtesy of Texas General Land Office.
The all-volunteer program began in the fall of 1986, when 2,800 volunteers picked up 124 tons of trash. In 26 years, 430,000 Adopt-A-Beach volunteers have picked up more than 8,300 tons of trash from the Texas Gulf Coast, some of it originating from as far away as Asia. Volunteers record the data to learn more about the causes of marine debris and to help mitigate pollution along the coastline.
So successful is the program, that it has helped pass an international treaty and has won awards.
Data collected from previous cleanups played an integral role in the passage of MARPOL Annex V, an international treaty that prohibits the dumping of plastics in the world's oceans. In 1991, the International Maritime Organization designated the Gulf of Mexico and the Wider Caribbean as a "special area" where the dumping of trash, with few exceptions, is prohibited.
According to the US Department of Interior, the Adopt-A-Beach program does more than any other volunteer program in the nation to take care of public lands and, on October 11, was, for the third time, awarded the Take Pride in America Award for top corporate-sponsored event in Washington, DC.
"Adopt-A-Beach volunteers work hard and really make a difference, from cleaning up trash that's deadly to fish and birds to improving Texas tourism," said Renee Tuggle, Adopt-A-Beach coordinator. "I can't think of any other effort that even comes close to the real world change this program and its volunteers bring about."
Coastal cleanups are held three times each year and require the hard work and dedication of many. Among the thousands of volunteers are local coordinators who work many unpaid hours publicizing the cleanups in coastal communities. Additionally, corporate and local media sponsors provide necessary resources to help underwrite the costs associated with the events. Shell Oil Co. was one of the lead statewide sponsors of this year's fall cleanup. Other statewide sponsors included: Apache Corp., AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry, Cheniere Energy, Halliburton, and the Ocean Conservancy.
The next coastwide cleanup will be the Spring Adopt-A-Beach effort scheduled for Saturday, April 20, 2013. Find out more at www.TexasAdoptABeach.org.