PANAMA CITY BEACH (CBSMiami) – Two people with the group “Plastic Symptoms” have trekked around the coast of Florida to raise awareness on the dangers and amount of plastics on Florida’s shorelines.
For the past four months, Bryan Galvin and Heather Bolint have made a more than 12-hundred mile trek, raising awareness on plastics found along the shore while picking up as much as they can.
They say it’s a problem that extends beyond the state.
“It’s not only the plastics that we’re using here and consuming here, it’s the plastics that are washing up globally. We’re finding a lot of stuff from the Caribbean islands, from Haiti, from the Dominican. We’re also finding stuff from Central and South America,” said Galvin.
The two say any plastic found in the water is harmful to both humans and marine life.
“Coming through the bay area here, we’re actually finding bit plastics by sea turtles. Lots of things that we’ve found, probably about 90 percent of everything we’ve picked up in the last three days has bite marks on it,” said Galvin.
The pair made a similar trek in 2017 down Florida’s east coast but ramped up the miles this year, collecting almost 25-hundred pounds of trash along the way.
“So I think it’s really imperative that Florida citizens take initiative on this and understand plastic is really affecting our collective environment and that we need to keep our beaches healthy,” said Bolint.
So what can we and our visitors do to help? The group says simply saying no to single-use plastics and leaving only your footprints will create a huge impact in the long-run.
“If we could substitute things like a Ziploc bag for wax paper again and wrap your sandwich in paper instead of a plastic bag,” said Galvin.
The group’s ultimate goal is to get ahead of the problem by stopping the creation of any new plastics due to how long they remain in the environment.
“Every single piece of plastic you have ever touched in your lifetime, thrown away, recycled or not, it’s still out there in the environment. So no matter what you do with those plastics, they’re still out there,” said Galvin.
“We’re really trying to stop this from becoming a worse situation and lingering in the environment. We really want to nip it in the bud and stop the source of it,” said Bolint.
Galvin and Bolint’s journey hasn’t always been easy but they say the message will always be important.
During the journey the two have been camping in state parks, staying with friends, or using a small camper. For the plastics they can’t carry, they mark and log where they found them.