Cleaning the Coast in Jackson County - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Cleaning the Coast in Jackson County

It's an 18 year old tradition that combines community service with environmental awareness.

The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup took place this morning in over 40 different spots across the South Mississippi.

Keli Rabon shows us one Jackson County group that headed to the bayou.         

Long Beach native Michelle Buchanan says on a Saturday morning she'd normally be sleeping in her college dorm room at Millsaps. But on this day, she's one of 40 volunteers at the Grand Bay Reserve.   

 "I've been doing it for so long, since I was so young, that it's just become a part of my life," she said.               

The Coastal Cleanup has become an annual ritual for many of these workers, who are putting on their gloves and taking out the trash.

In some cases, it's the usual litter, but this year, Katrina debris is also among the trash.   

"You're picking up people's memories and homes. It's a lot different than picking up beer cans and cigarettes," Buchanan said.   

The last Mississippi Coastal Cleanup was held in 2003, where 4,500 volunteers picked up 35 tons of debris.

But this year, volunteers say it's not about the numbers, it's about the way they feel at the end of the day.     

"It makes me feel good about myself to know that I'm helping out in some way. Like there's not a lot of time on my hands, and it just feels like I can give one Saturday a year to come out and clean up. it makes me feel better," Buchanan said.      

As the volunteers continue to carry, pile, and pick their way through another bag of trash, team leader Chris May says they're learning a very important life lesson in litter.   

"For them to realize that every piece of trash somebody's responsible for throwing it out the window, letting it get away from them. It gives them appreciation of some of the more common trash that shows up in our waterways," May said.     

More than 3,300 volunteers participated in today's cleanup, piling up over 4,000 bags of trash. That adds up to 31.5 tons of waste, debris, and litter.

By: Keli Rabon 

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