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Blue Tubes Help Beachgoers Keep Beaches Clean

Visiting the beach is a big part of the lifestyle of coastal Florida residents.From time to time, however, our beaches can become littered. It’s something Ft. Pierce resident Ron McCallen says he has noticed.

“Oh yeah, a lot of people leave their stuff behind, but that’s the way it goes. So we do our best we can,” said McCallen, as he mentions they try to pick up the trash they find.

McCallen is at the beach this day to meet with friends, they’ve brought food in a number of plastic bags. These type of bags are part of a program now making its way into Ft. Pierce called Blue Tubes.

Patricia Goffinet installs the 100th blue tube to the beach access at Kimberly Bergalis Beach in Ft. Pierce. It’s a rectangular plastic tube, the kind used in fences. It has two holes, one in the top, another at the bottom. It’ll hold clean plastic bags. It’s a project Goffinet started in 2015 in Brevard County.

“I always walk on the beach and pick up trash and I’ll get out the beach and then realize that I forgot a bag,” says Goffinet.  “I’ll have my arms full of plastic and think, oh, if I only had a bag.”

The public is asked to bring extra, clean plastic bags to add to the blue tubes. That way beachgoers can help themselves to a bag in which to place their own garbage and, hopefully, pick up items, especially plastic, from the area around them as well. Goffinet wears a wide-brimmed canvas hat and her sun glasses are on a cord around her neck as she puts seven of the tubes at various beach access points, bringing the total number of tubes on the east coast of Florida to 100.

“They go from south of Jacksonville, GTM Research Reserve, some in St. Augustine, Flagler beach, all the way down to we have a few in Palm Beach.” She tells us. “So east central Florida and moving farther.”

Charlene Adair chairs the Ft. Pierce Beach and Parks clean-up committee. She’s happy when people decide to pitch in and help clean up, but it goes beyond that.

“We’ve all been to turtle hospitals and we’ve seen what just swallowing a little ring of plastic does to them.” She says, “It kills a lot of them, it injures a lot of them. It’s not only turtles of course, it’s any sea life it badly damaged if they just eat a little bit of plastic.

While the new blue tubes installed in Ft. pierce are freshly stocked with grocery bags, Patty Goffinet says any kind of plastic bag will do. “We get plastic bags for apples, potatoes, rice, bread, any of these will work,” she says. “As long as they’re clean, but them in a blue tube.”

Making sure the bags are clean helps keep the raccoons out of the tubes. Each blue tube has instructions on it explaining what the bags are for. Tubes usually also bear the name of a sponsor. You can find out more about blue tubes at bluetubebeach.org.

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