TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay area is known for its beautiful waterways. But what is not beautiful is the waste that ends up in these waters.
Al Antolik is the director of Trash Free Waters, part of the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful organization. Its mission is to keep the garbage outside.
“It’s basically a puzzle that we have to solve,” he said. “The longer I am here – the longer I am here – I realize that there is no solution to the problem, there are probably a thousand little solutions to the problem.”
WFLA has joined Antolik, along with Felix from Carrollwood, who is one of the Tuesday and Thursday volunteers looking to give back. Anyone can register to join the effort. Our first take was a monstrous piece of wooden fence.
Felix says he tries to set an example and teach his son the importance of helping others.
“It’s about what we can do to help the community,” he said.
The job can come with challenges, like the time the Antolik team decided to take out a few electric scooters along the Riverwalk on the Hillsborough River.
“No one really knew how many there were, so we decided to make that effort to walk along the Riverwalk,” he said.
It was no ordinary job as Antolik says they pulled over 70 scooters out of the water. And that’s not all.
“Basketball, simple shoes, I took Barbie out of the water yesterday, some fruit,” he said. “There’s a whole mess of stuff here. “
But this mess is the message.
“We are trying to empower and educate the next generation to volunteer for opportunities like this,” Antolik said. “Even though we have a day where we only pick up a few containers, it’s two containers that didn’t make it to the bay, it’s two containers that haven’t made the problem we have worse.”
You can register online to participate in Trash Free Waters events.