By Olivia Gilbert
#UNLITTER has continued to expand their influence throughout Florida, recently partnering with high school students in the coastal town of Jupiter to encourage the next generation to become more involved and environmentally conscientious.
At the end of October, the #UNLITTER Jupiter community organized a beach cleanup at Dubois Park. Around 30 people came to show support for the association and its mission, with a majority of the participants in the middle to high school age range.
Jacklyn Biondo, a 16 year-old student at Jupiter High School, was one of the many volunteers who attended the clean-up, having heard about the opportunity from one of the clubs she’s involved in at her school.
“I heard about it from the National Honor Society and then I went to the cleanup on Sunday,” Biondo said. “Afterwards, I joined the first meeting and I hope to get more involved!”
Even such a brief introduction to the #UNLITTER lifestyle has left its mark on Biondo. Helping her realize the importance of keeping the environment clean, especially in a town such as Jupiter.
“Jupiter is known for their beaches. People travel from all over the world for the beaches, and if they’re dirty, then that’s not a good thing,” Biondo said.
It’s not just tourism that Biondo is worried about, but the intricate role Jupiter’s shore plays in the environment. “There’s a lot of things that depend on the beaches being clean.”
A beach covered by trash and discarded items can inhibit tourism, having a potentially detrimental effect on local shops who depend on the foot traffic generated by tourists in order to run successful businesses. Even more impacted by litter are the wildlife and marine ecosystems whose environments are being affected by marine debris. Garbage can harm or kill coastal species who are at risk of either consuming or becoming caught in the trash that has invaded their habitats.
Despite the clearly negative impact that pollution has had on the environment many people do not fully
understand or recognize the severity of the situation or the role they play in creating it.
“Not enough people, especially my age, know a lot about littering and how the environment is being affected horribly every day,” said Kylie Buigas, another high school volunteer.“Global warming and pollution are huge issues but I don’t think people realize how big of an issue it really is.”
Because of this, it is becoming even more important and necessary to help teach younger generations the impact of littering and introduce projects and events that inspire a greater change within not only their communities, but also the world.
“I think #UNLITTER is raising awareness and it’s helpful for high school students to get involved,” Alexandra Winquist said.
Winquist, a junior at Jupiter High School, plans on continuing her involvement with #UNLITTER after participating in the beach cleanup on Sunday, October 29th.
“I want to be more involved in #UNLITTER in the future and possibly lead the Jupiter #UNLITTER group at our school.” Winquist said. “Everyone was super friendly and I just like helping the environment!”
#UNLITTER will continue to work with students to organize more events in the future, including a sunrise beach yoga to demonstrate the importance of not only #UNLITTERing the world around us, but also #UNLITTERing our minds. The goal of #UNLITTER is to encourage more teens to join the organization's cause, inspiring the rising generation to lead positive and sustainable lives.