Clean Community Clean Coasts

Preventing Marine Debris by Reducing Inland Littering

The National Marine Debris Tracking Program identified the top five forms of marine debris as: plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags, metal beverage cans, and balloons. 

clean comm img 1Inland littering and insufficient waste management practices are primary causes of marine debris in coastal communities. To increase effective litter prevention and reduction outcomes, the Clean Community-Clean Coast education and outreach campaign created awareness of marine debris impacts through information, hands-on activities and messages that resonated with specific audiences and address context-specific social norms.

The USF CMS, in partnership with the USF College of Behavior and Community Sciences (CBCS), USF St. Petersburg College of Education (COE), Keep Pinellas Beautiful (KPB), Tampa Bay Watch (TBW), Georgia State University (GSU) School of Art and Design, the St. Petersburg Science Festival and the City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department developed a series of programs and activities that engaged, educated and inspired 3,000+ youth, 500 educators and the general public in Pinellas County Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Youth Programs: The team of researchers, community organizations and environmental educators conducted a series of focus groups, surveys and workshops with middle and high school students.  Keep Pinellas Beautiful and USF hosted the new KBP Youth Environmental Leadership workshop which provided an overview of watersheds, storm drain systems, runoff and inland trash and sessions on mass and interpersonal communications and social media. The goal of the workshop to increase youth knowledge and support their ideas for environmental awareness programs at their school and increase peer-to-peer outreach. Other programs were conducted with Girls Inc Pinellas and the East Atlanta Kids Club.
  • Municipal Programs: The USF and KPB team also hosted the Collaborating for Clean Communities Forum which engaged 50 municipal staff, elected officials and local businesses in a day long workshop to discuss root causes of littering in specific public spaces, such as waterfronts,parks, neighborhood  and beaches and increase perspectives of values, attitudes, and onsite signage to support positive behavior change. This event sparked increased collaboration between organizations which implemented additional green and sustainablities programs. The Forum was strongly supported by professionals at Pinellas County Extension and sponsorship from Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
  • Public Art and Community Engagement: The 4Cs team of artists included faculty and students from Georgia State University and emerging artists from Atlanta, GA. The team engaged hundreds of youth and the families St. Petersburg, FL and Atlanta, GA, in hands-on art making activities to support the creation of Current Collections, a massive steel and plastic sculpture made with reclaimed plastics and marine debris. The Museum of Fine Art and the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and the other leaders in the arts community in St. Petersburg offered their facilities and supported outreach for the workshops.
  • Science Festivals: The 4Cs team collaborated with staff at the City of St. Pete and Keep Pinellas Beautiful to develop new materials and activities for the 2014 and 2015 St. Petersburg Science Festivals, which attracted more than 15,000 people each year.


Turning Trash into Visual Treasure
To create awareness and spark dialogue about the connection between litter and marine debris, artists created a massive sculpture, which represents an ocean vortex. Inside the sculpture, viewers experience swirling currents created from reclaimed plastic collected by volunteers from community and coastal cleanups. Children in St. Petersburg and Atlanta helped make the colorful panels embedded in the plastic membrane. The Current Collections sculpture, created by Embodied Energy Studio LLC, is in Poynter Park across from the Poynter Institute at 801 3rd Street South in St. Petersburg, FL.

Installing the Sculpture. Tom Cawthon of the Poynter Institute generously filmed this video which shows the key steps in the five-day onsite construction process of the Current Collections sculpture. 

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Funded by a 2014 NOAA Marine Debris Prevention, Education and Outreach Program Cooperative Agreement Grant

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