by Kathy Panko
Diane Buhler, Founder/President, Friends of Palm Beach, spoke to the LWV, Environmental Issues Group, on April 13, 2019. Diane lectures and attends events to educate the community on the ocean’s plight and how everyone has the power to combat single-use plastics.
Friends of Palm Beach is a non-profit organization that removes trash from local private resident beaches through monthly volunteer events and weekday cleaning. The daily crew consists of clients of The Lord’s Place, an organization that helps the homeless; Vita Nova, an organization that helps young adults transition from foster care to independence; and Goodwill’s Back to a Future program. Through this transitional work program, these individuals find their way back to independence and a new life. Combining the beach trash problem and the desire to end homelessness, they are changing lives and beaches one bucketful at a time.
Friends of Palm Beach incorporated in 2013. Since May of that year, they have removed over 118,484 pounds of trash from the Palm Beach Shores. That is over 59 tons, and 75% of the trash is made of plastics. The amount of marine debris in the Atlantic Ocean is extreme. Palm Beach County is closest to the Gulfstream current. That means we get a lot of amazing marine creatures passing by our shores, but it also means we get a large amount of ocean trash that comes from island nations to the south of us – Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and as far east a West Africa. Easterly winds push the trash to our shore. Medical waste is found on all beaches.
The following photos are just a few examples of why Friends of Palm Beach do what they do.