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Hillsborough County residents are keeping our waterways clean one garbage bag at a time. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful hosted their 28th annual cleanup of the Hillsborough River and coastal lines.

Thousands of volunteers came out to more than 80 Hillsborough County cleanup locations.

“We always have tremendous support,” said Tom Damico, environmental program coordinator at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. “We have so many school groups, church groups, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and Eagle scouts interested in community service projects.”

When volunteers arrived at the Ben T. Davis Beach location they were given a free garbage bag, a pair of gloves, and a checklist. The volunteers were asked to check off any item they found and write in others that weren’t on the list. The top littered items were cigarette butts, bottle caps, plastic bags and beverage containers.

“At first I didn’t realize that all of these things would be on the list but as I looked around I was like ok, this is pretty common,” said Phillip Scott, a local volunteer. “I guess it was like an eye opener for me.”

Last year approximately 4000 volunteers helped collect more than 60,000 pounds of litter from more than 75 cleaning locations and waterways in Hillsborough County.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful hosts two annual clean ups to benefit Hillsborough County. The Great American Clean Up in the spring and the River and Coastal cleanup in the fall. Even with those measures, there is still a tremendous amount of litter left.

“We have studies from the EPA that show that 80 percent of the litter that ends up in our neighborhoods, streets and roadways end up being washed into our waterways,” Damico said. “We’ve got to stop that cycle.”

For more information on upcoming clean ups and how to help keep Hillsborough County clean visit Keeptampabaybeautiful.org.