PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — There are about 47 miles of coastline in Palm Beach County and one of the groups working to keep them clean has reached a milestone.
Diane Buhler founded Friends of Palm Beach in 2013.
As a longtime diver and beach lover, she paid close attention to the shoreline when she moved to Palm Beach County.
"The winds are bringing it ashore," Buhler said. "In time, the conveyor belt, of the amazing Gulfstream, which is only supposed to be moving nutrients and marine life, it's now the trash conveyor belt. It's bringing it right ashore."
The nonprofit has steadily grown, far exceeding her personal expectations. It now pays employees to work in a synchronized pattern. The employees are often clients of The Lord's Place and Vita Nova, which each help people experiencing homelessness.
"Eighty percent, if not 80-85% of what we collect, is plastic," Buhler said. "Most of it is a light form, and there is a lot of it."
The group collected more than 40,000 pounds of trash last year.
"We get toilets. We get toilet seats," she said. "I would think some of the treats from some of the parties that happen in Miami, the party favors. We get the drugs. We get everything under the sun."
Friends of Palm Beach has discovered recliner chairs, medical equipment and even historical artifacts.
"We have some pretty cool things," she said. "We've gotten some historical stuff, the rubber bails from a World War II ship that sunk off of Brazil that made its way here."
Going into her organization's 10th year, Buhler hopes people will be more mindful of what they use and what they leave behind. Reusable water bottles, for example, can reduce waste.