TAMPA — Mayor Jane Castor was driving home from an event last year when someone in a nearby car threw a Styrofoam cup out the window.
Then they threw another one, the mayor said.
Castor got the car to pull over. The Uber driver said she told her passenger not to throw trash out the window, but he did it anyway.
“I’m like, ‘This is our city. This is our home,’” Castor said. “‘You can’t just throw things out the window.’” The passenger picked up the cups.
“I think cleanliness says a lot about your community,” Castor said. “It just drives me crazy to see litter.”
On Saturday, the city is embarking on an anti-littering effort called “Keep It Clean, Tampa!” aimed at waterways, parks and neighborhoods.
A recently procured, specialized boat named the Litter Skimmer will work the Hillsborough River and the waters off Davis Islands and Bayshore Boulevard.
Litter Skimmer won’t pick up submerged trash — like those downtown e-scooters vandals regularly throw into the river — but it will capture floating garbage. Crews will spend eight hours a day, four days a week removing debris on the water, according to a city spokesperson.
The city, the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful organization and neighborhood leaders are gathering hundreds of volunteers for a trash clean-up. Volunteers are encouraged to clean up their own neighborhoods or pitch in at one of four designated parks on Saturday: Cheney Park at 801 E Yukon St., Borrell Park at 808 E 26th Ave., Gadsden Park at 6901 S MacDill Ave. and Grant Park at 3724 N 54th St.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring sunscreen and wear closed-toed shoes.
Also, volunteers who have their own kayaks can launch at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on the west side of the Hillsborough River just south of Interstate 275 for a water clean-up. Boats will be on hand to collect trash from kayakers starting at 9 a.m.
The city has been working on other initiatives, including businesses adopting bus shelters and the installation of catches at the end of stormwater drains to keep litter from getting into the waterways when it rains, Castor said.
“This particular day will be the focus, but we want it to continue on,” she said.
For more information, go to Tampa.gov/KeepitClean.