Grant Year: 2023 | Focus Area: Environment & Recreation| Amount: $108,364| Grant Status: In progress
Ocean Hour was founded in 2012, inspired by Justin Riney who thought that if everyone gave just one hour each week to cleaning up shores and waterways, we could make a significant impact on the marine debris issue. Ocean Hour offers weekly Saturday morning beach cleanups at multiple locations throughout Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties and continues to expand its service offerings and volunteer base. Now, Ocean Hour performs 2-3 regular cleanups every Saturday and partners with other organizations to do cleanups on other days of the week, totaling approximately 130 cleanups a year across 16 sites. The amount of trash collected has increased each year from 5,000 pounds in 2016 to over 41,000 pounds in 2022. In addition, Ocean Hour attends numerous events to raise awareness of environmental issues, partners with Gulf Breeze Elementary School to conduct recycling projects and fundraising activities, and partners with a diving club for cleanups at the Fort Pickens fishing pier. Recently, Ocean Hour installed eight "borrow bins" on Pensacola Beach to recycle beach toys and three water fill stations in Gulf Breeze parks to cut down on plastic waste.
OVERVIEW OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT
Ocean Hour's project, Improving Sustainability in our Pensacola Parks, seeks to purchase and install five water bottle fill stations and 15 solar powered trash compactor bins with educational signage at the highest volume parks and athletic fields in Pensacola. IMPACT 100 funds will be used to purchase and install one fill station and two to three trash compactor bins each at a total of five parks. The selection of the parks and equipment locations will be identified in partnership with the City of Pensacola. The solar powered trash compactor bins come equipped with remote locking and anti-vandalism features as well as notification software to track and manage capacity and usage. These trash compactors will feature custom-designed wraparounds with environmental educational information along with the Ocean Hour, City of Pensacola, and IMPACT 100 logos. The City of Pensacola has agreed to assist in the installation of the equipment and will take responsibility for its maintenance. The City has also agreed to apply any cost savings associated with the new, more efficient equipment to install additional water fill stations and solar trash compactors at more public parks. Also included in the project is a social media marketing campaign to raise awareness of the new equipment and its benefits.
EXPECTED IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
The water bottle fill stations will provide free, filtered, refrigerated water, reducing the use of single-use plastics that often go unrecycled and end up in landfills. By providing the basic need for hydration, the water bottle fill stations could save the average family over $500 a year in water bottle purchases. With only 7% of all plastic being recycled in the US, the water bottle fill stations will also positively impact the amount of landfill waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination of our waterways and sea life. The trash compactor bins can store five times the amount of trash as standard bins, which will reduce the frequency and cost of trash pickup and harmful vehicular emissions. For example, the City of Philadelphia implemented solar trash compactors in city parks which reduced trash pickups from 17 to three times per week, saving over $800,000 annually. Educating the public through educational signage has a ripple effect impacting all of Pensacola's environmental efforts for years to come. By improving the community’s sustainability efforts, Pensacola will be seen as an area that cares about its environment, residents, and visitors.