It's a shore thing 

Geez, who doesn't love the beach? We get to lie on it, change our skin color and (oooh) watch people saunter by in small outfits. We can contemplate the immenseness of the ocean. But we also put out cigarette butts and throw fast-food wrappers on the beach. Last year the Florida Coastal Cleanup, a huge trash-pickup undertaking, collected three-quarters of a million pounds of litter. That included a quarter-million cigarette butts -- as well as nearly 12,000 fishing lines, balloons, plastic bottle and other debris. Yuck.

This year's cleanup, which gathers thousands of volunteers up and down Florida's shore line, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18. It's part of an international effort coordinated by the Center for Marine Conservation. The water-filter-pitcher people at Brita are sponsors, and all the volunteers will receive a Brita coupon for their beach-combing.

Cleaning up the coast is a nice gesture of appreciation for all who spend days happily sweating themselves into a daze on the beach. But it's also really good for critters living in or near the water. To help prevent a fish from choking on a plastic cap, join the cleanup by calling (800) CMC-FLOR.

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