September 26, 2008
You won’t often find college students out and about at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Recently, 42 Rollins students woke up bright and early to participate in International Coastal Cleanup Day and headed out to clean up the shores of Cape Canaveral.
The Office of Community Engagement and the Department of Biology organized Rollins’ fourth annual involvement with International Coastal Cleanup Day, putting Rollins students alongside thousands of other volunteers all over North America and Europe who were also headed for the coast that morning.
While riding on buses to Cherie Down Park in Cape Canaveral, students worked through a quick preflection as one of the program’s coordinators Assistant Professor of Biology Fiona Harper explained the significance of the beach cleanup the students were about to participate in. They learned that one of the greatest dangers to wildlife is one of the easiest things to overlook on the beach – cigarette butts. Cigarette butts casually abandoned on the beach can be eaten by local wildlife, expand in their stomachs, and kill them.
When students arrived at Cherie Down Park they quickly saw how big of a problem this really was. Rollins volunteers spent the next two hours combing the sand for man-made debris. One three-person group found more than 300 cigarette butts, not to mention plastic cups, bottle caps and even toothbrushes. While collecting pounds of trash, students still had time to enjoy the beach and the waves. Sophomore Environmental Studies major Emily Collins commented, “I personally enjoy the chance to spend a day at the beach with friends and make a positive impact on our local environment. It really is shocking to see the amount of garbage left on the shores and to then realize that we only spent two hours cleaning.”