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Alabama coastal nonprofit working to clean up beaches one piece of trash at a time

Courtney Dombroski

A nonprofit group along the Alabama Gulf Coast is working to make a difference in the community by picking up one piece of litter at a time. Eco Clean Marine operates from Fort Morgan, Alabama, to Panama City, Florida, and aims to make a difference in the local environment by hosting monthly trash pickups and educating the community on local wildlife.

The organization is currently seeking volunteers for its July cleanup event in Orange Beach. The event is scheduled for July 13 at 7:45 a.m. with a meeting spot on 25771 Perdido Beach Boulevard in between Starbuck and Publix Parking Lot.

The monthly pickup will last for one hour. Participants will be provided with tools such as gloves, grabbers and buckets to assist in trash pickup, but they are also welcome to bring their own equipment.

Eco Clean Marine was started in January 2022, fueled by a passion to contribute to the community and protect the environment. Founder Courtney Dombroski said the organization is focusing on areas that don’t see much attention from other conservation efforts.

“We're going to send people off to a boat ramp that's right down the street, but then we're also going to be picking up in the parking lot area,” Dombroski said. “This is the stuff that no one's really picking up, and it eventually blows into the waterways, or it gets rained down into the ditches, which get into the environment. So, we're making an impact by going ahead and picking it up before it goes further down the journey of getting into the environment.”

Dombroski said the monthly trash pickups usually attract 45 to 60 volunteers. She explained that with the high number of people showing up to help clean the beaches for just one hour, Eco Clean Marie and volunteers can pick up over 500 pounds of trash.

“Our last pickup was at the original Oyster House, and within one hour, it ended up being 450 pounds,” Dombroski said.

Eco Clean Marine has options for those unable to physically attend the monthly trash pickup sessions, which includes buying a “Bucket of Goodwill” or adopting a Fish Feeding Machine.

“One bucket of trash equals $5. So, every $5 you invest equals out to be another bucket of trash,” Dombroski said. “Ee also have another special option too, where you can adopt a fish feeding machine, which also funds our educational program, where we hand select a fish feeding machine around each city that we're in, and it’s $19.99 a month.”

The featured machine for July is the one located at Live Bait on Orange Beach. The Fish Feeding Machines have been installed along the Gulf Coast to help strengthen the ecosystem. According to the nonprofit’s website, an e-book is available to download for participants while feeding the fish. It’s designed to educate about the local marine life and underwater biodiversity along the panhandle.

Dombroski said Eco Clean Marine, which is volunteer based, has made an impact in the local coastal community since its founding in 2022.

“We have accomplished so much in two years, and the reason that we have is the support of our community and everyone who comes out and volunteers with us and our sponsors who help us fund our mission,” Dombroski said.

Follow Eco Clean Marine on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events and how to get involved with the nonprofit.

 

Caroline Karrh is a student intern in the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She majors in News Media and Communication Studies at The University of Alabama. She loves to read, write and report. When she is not in the newsroom, Caroline enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading romance novels and coaching soccer.

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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