Some National Wildlife Refuges, including ours, recruit resident volunteers for a few months of the year to help with various projects and programs. That is how Maine residents Carolyn Nobbs and Charlie Adkins came to spend their winters volunteering in Florida.
This is their second season living and working on the Dixie county side of the Lower Suwannee refuge. One of their most time consuming chores is picking up litter. Litter seems to jump out for Carolyn, she spots it long before most people could. From her truck she can even identify the type, “that’s a peanut container, we get lots of those for some reason”.
So far this year, in only 36 days, they collected 98 garbage bags which is over 1000 pounds. In addition to the usual bottles and cans they retrieved some unusual things include a car fender, tires, two 55 pound tractor wheel weights and a fishing net.
Charlie wonders why Florida doesn’t offer a container deposit like their home state of Maine. “Most of these cans wouldn’t be here if there was a nickel deposit and the ones we did pick up could buy our lunch” he says. Currently only 11 states have “bottle bill” legislation.
It is often the case that once you start picking up litter you can’t stop noticing it. This seems to have happened to Charlie and Carolyn who also join Suwannee town’s weekly trash group, the Litter Pickers. Monday mornings find the group picking up trash along the town's streets. They typically gather two or three garbage bags of bottles, cans, cups and ice bags. At least that litter that will not make its way into the surrounding refuge.