Renew our Rivers program
For thirteen years, Mississippi Power Company has put on an annual cleanup event allowing volunteers to pick up trash and debris along the Gulf Coast. In 2009, the company decided to focus on Deer Island and the cleanup has been held there ever since.
The Renewing our Rivers Program has cleaned up more than 400 tons of trash since it has started. “When you are out here picking this up, there’s parts of it where people just throw out stuff. It’s a shame that happens, but events like this gives us a chance to get back out here and clean it back up.”
What others may have tossed out onto Deer Island, more than 150 volunteers picked up which is one of the highest turnouts for this event. Volunteer Elaina Thompson said, “We found plastic bottles and what looks like a bumper from a boat.”
Volunteer Riley Parker said, “We have a lot of trash. A lot of Styrofoam, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, all kinds of trash.”
The cleanup brings the community together, increasing awareness of the conditions of the island and makes the island more attractive to tourists. Volunteer Eric Gallichant said, “It’s important for us to come out, try to clean up, and take care of our environment especially with us being a coastal city like this.”
The annual cleanup benefits more than just tourism as locals and volunteers are also concerned about the wildlife here on the Gulf Coast. Volunteer Tiffany Guidry Wilson said, “So many times I have seen a pelican with a soft drink tab around its neck. You see the trash hurting the animals.”
The volunteer groups make it their responsibility to set the tone for Earth Day events across the Coast. Earth Day is April 22nd. “I’m a tree hugger. I love the area that we live in. In order for people to enjoy it, it needs to be the way that nature intended it to be.”