Volunteers shocked by piles of trash found in Bayfront Park water (includes video story)

Organizations and volunteers came together at Bayfront Park this past Friday to clean up one of Miami’s biggest messes: plastic on the beach. 

The effort was organized by Clean Miami Beach. More than 80 volunteers helped the organization in its mission to save the environment from pollution. 

About 1,006 pounds of trash were collected in two hours from 5 to 7 p.m., according to the non-profit organization’s founder and executive director, Sophie Ringel. 

Clean Miami Beach centers on many littered areas on Biscayne Bay, as well as Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and other parts of Miami-Dade County. Ringel said Bayfront Park always has about the same amount of trash. 

“I don’t want to just focus on Miami Beach,” said Ringel. “The ocean knows no borders… We go everywhere where we are needed.”

Two volunteers, Stacie Miner and Leti Benzant, couldn’t believe the items they found in the water. 

Miner said she found a bottle of wine still intact. 

“It was unopened, still corked and everything, floating in between the rocks and stuff,” said Miner, a first-time volunteer. 

Among the other items that turned up were shoes, bottles, cans, plastic containers, tennis balls, straws, styrofoam and more. 

Miner and Benzant each filled up five to six buckets with trash. 

They also said that people walking around Bayside would think the area is normally clean —until they take a peek over the edge of the water. 

“I’ve been doing beach cleanups for about a year now and I’m pretty shocked at how much garbage there actually is,” said Benzant. “I had no idea.”

Benzant said she volunteered to give back to her community. “I just think it’s important to take care of it. It takes care of us in a lot of ways that we might not see physically,” she said.

The event DJ who was also part-organizer felt grateful to see the community come together to give back to the planet. 

“Honestly this is just really fulfilling to see everybody come out and support and at least for a short time clean everything up,” said DJ Arkitekt. “I wanted to use my small voice to give back to the city that’s given so much to me for 13 years…”

There to collect the trash and recyclable items were Junkluggers, an eco-friendly trash removal service, and Champions for Green, which takes recyclable materials and turns them into new products, like apparel, made out of plastic. 

“The hat I’m wearing is made from six plastic bottles. The polo I’m wearing is made from 18 plastic bottles,” said owner of Champions for Green, Andrew Schonholtz. 

Lead ambassador of Clean Miami Beach, Sheyla Suarez, said the purpose of these cleanups is to educate and create awareness on how garbage is polluting the environment. 

To start making a change, she suggests people be more careful. 

“Stop using single-use plastic. Instead of buying plastic water bottles, bring a reusable water,” said Suarez. “Wherever you go, reusable water bottles, reusable bags, when you go to the restaurants ask for no straws or bring your own straw, you know, your own containers, like bring your own things.”

Clean Miami Beach is hosting its next clean-up event on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2, on 10th Street from 5 to 7 p.m. The organization invites the whole community to join them in helping save the planet, one piece of trash at a time. 

Nicole Ardila is a digital broadcasting major at FIU, also pursuing a minor in psychology. She's reported for Caplin News from Washington, D.C. for an NBCU Academy Fellowship and directed the Opinion section for FIU’s student media, PantherNOW. In the future, she hopes to become a photojournalist and producer for documentaries/film to share important stories from across the world.