Saving earth, one trash bag at a time (includes photo essay)

Keep Coral Gables Beautiful is a program created to educate the community on environmental sustainability through organized cleanups, beautification events, invasive plant removals, and even art installations. The photo gallery shows the process of a cleanup.

Volunteers often collect a lot of plastic water bottles. According to the United Nations, plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.

A group of volunteers set off to begin their two-hour collection process.

Cleanup teams dispose of litter in trash bags that are then sorted and disposed of properly.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cigarette butts are the most common form of marine litter. They primarily reach our waterways through improper disposal on beaches, rivers, and land.

Organizers distribute supplies like vests, gloves, and trash pickers to volunteers who help clean around Downtown Coral Gables.

A volunteer finds soda cans, pieces of foil, and paper products hidden in a bush.

A clear trash bag shows the litter collected throughout the event.

One trash bag collected during the cleanup weighed just over four pounds.

Volunteers prepare to weigh trash bags to record how much litter they took off the streets.

The number of bags collected shows volunteers were successful in reducing the amount of trash in the city.

Alena Zuckerman is a junior at Florida International University who aspires to be a director of photography in the film industry. She assists the FIU Athletics Department as a camera operator and editor for live sporting events and collaborates with Miami Dade College film students on their projects as a grip, electric, or camera assistant. Zuckerman will graduate from the Lee Caplin School of Journalism and Media with a bachelor’s degree in communications and media in 2025.