South Florida man documents journey of collecting 11,000 lbs of trash from Florida’s ecosystems

11,000 lbs of trash is equivalent to 5.5 tons removed in a little over two years
Cleaning Up Florida's Ecosystem
Cleaning Up Florida's Ecosystem
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:36 PM EDT
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Andrew Otazo, an environmentalist who lives in south Florida, has spent two and a half years removing 11,000 pounds of trash, which is equivalent to 5.5 tons. It was at the age of thirteen when Andrew determined that he wanted to be a part of a solution to keep our ecosystems clean.

“I would just go out there and notice how incredibly beautiful the nature along with the biodiversity within south Florida’s ecosystems. However, there was one problem, everything was completely marred by trash, literally every square foot had a piece of trash on it. It looked like a landfill and it would just ruin the experience. The older I got the more I learned about how these plastics would break down into micro plastics and how that would go into the food chain and harm all the animals, all the way up to the apex predators,” says Otazo.

Along the way Andrew battled Florida’s sweltering heat, lacerations and even infections from wounds he got while collecting trash and debris. “The biggest danger out there is definitely the sun, where I experienced heat exhaustion often. Especially during this time of the year inevitably around 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon I just have to stop working, otherwise I will pass out.” He has held numerous clean-ups in Miami-Dade County and has made it his personal mission to keep Florida beautiful.

“It’s just hoping that I can make some sort of difference on these environments and just noticing the difference once I go through an area how much cleaner it is and how much safer the animals are.”

At this time, plans for the return of events for Keep Sarasota County Beautiful are in the final stages. When events are available, information will be available at You can also keep an eye out for any local clean-ups, or take a bag and a pair of gloves and get started.

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