Palm Bay, much like most other cities throughout the country is working towards cleaning up their streets of trash and waste. One organization in particular, Keep Brevard Beautiful, is doing a bang up job at continuing to address this issue. Every year Keep Brevard Beautiful hosts a county wide cleanup effort. Just in 2017 alone, there were more than 1,100 individuals who attended the cleanup. By the end of the day 30,642 pounds of litter was removed off of the county’s streets. The sheer volume of individuals willing to take some time out of one of their days in order to help clean up the streets of Palm Bay shows just how much recognition there is of the littering problem.
The organized city cleanup is only one of many environmental and sustainability oriented initiatives the Brevard County and Palm Bay offer. Another growing environmental program is call Litter Quitter. Litter Quitter connects Keep Brevard Beautiful with local businesses and restaurants in an attempt to reduce single once plastics. Single use plastics such as plastic bags and the plastic that holds a 6 pack together, get tossed into either the recycling where they cannot get reduced or blown into the ocean. Unfortunately it seems like just about every grocery store parking lot is filled with single use plastic laying around. These plastics more often than not get blown by the wind and end up in the ocean. This is a significant problem since these plastics kill a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals every year. To combat this ongoing issue, the Litter Quitter program has created a grading scale (bronze, silver and gold) to encourage local businesses to reduce their usage of single use plastics. You are able to earn bronze certification through simply implementing an ask first straw policy. Every restaurant seems to giving customers straws when they order a drink, and most of the time the straw is not use and instead either left behind or thrown in the trash. This is a simple way of reducing the amount of waste and litter that a company has to clean up. In order to receive a silver certification, companies must switch from plastic bags to paper bags and give customers the option to bring their own bags. An example of this would be Trader Joe’s and how they encourage customers to bring their own shopping bags to the store. Lastly, the golden certification is given to companies and businesses that use refillable bottles and thermoses instead of styrofoam cups that you get at a fast food restaurants.
Yet another environmental program run through Keep Brevard Beautiful is the Lagoon Friendly Lawns program. As I am sure all of you know Palm Bay sits next to the Indian River Lagoon. Whether you knew it or not, this lagoon has huge environmental and economic significance to the city. It has been reported that the lagoon is home to over 4,000 species and brings in 3.7 billion dollars to the local economy. However, the lagoon is not as clean as it once was, and this due to to the fact that there is an increase in fertilizer usage. Homeowners like yourselves have been trying to improve your front or back yard through using fertilizers that make the grass greener. The only problem with this is that when the winds pick up or it starts to rain, a large amount of the fertilizer gets swept up in the surface water runoff off and ends up in the lagoon. The addition of fertilizer into the lagoon creates algae blooms which change the ph of the water and kill species that are not able to live within the new ph levels. That is why there might be some dead fish in the water when you look at the lagoon. Fortunately, the Lagoon Friendly Lawns Program provides a view ways to reduce the amount of fertilizers that go into the lagoon. There top solution would be to implement gardens and trees into your backyard instead of just grass, this will allow for some of the fertilizer and nutrients to get absorbed prior to flowing into the lagoon. It is also suggested that you reduce concrete and impervious surface, because there is no chance that these surfaces will stop surface runoff. Palm Bay is really doing a great job raising awareness and pushing for sustainable initiatives. For further reading and a list of future volunteer opportunities go to the Keep Brevard Beautiful website.