By: Jen Russon
The Santos brothers grew up in Coral Springs and cherish its green spaces – so much so, they’ve been collecting garbage daily, and posting the results of just how much litter they can recover in a single month.
Diego, 27, and his brother, Lucas, 23, who both attended Coral Glades High School, are focusing their efforts on areas surrounding their alma mater.
Lucas Santos is the brainchild behind the trash-pickup challenge. A recent FAU graduate, with a degree in exercise science and health promotion, trash isn’t the only thing he hopes to poach. He’s also looking for a job. In the meantime, his garbage collection is focused on an area that might surprise the naked eye.
Around the dog park and community garden, it looks relatively clean – but if residents look closer, they will see a different story.
“I had suggested we hit the Sportsplex Drive, thinking there would be a lot of trash due to the kids walking there every day,” said Diego. “We didn’t see much near the sidewalks so we went into the Steven G. Paul dog park’s parking lot and struck the jackpot.”
Diego described a shocking scene. In just 20 minutes, he and Lucas filled up five 13-gallon size garbage bags which mostly consisted of beer bottles and beer cans.
A full-time employee of TSA at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, Diego said he and his brother are doing this because they believe the planet is in a crucial state – explaining that it’s up to all of us to be good stewards, who care for our environment and all of its creatures.
He thinks the dog park’s ducks, birds, and canines, otherwise, its entire ecosystem, is better off without so much loose garbage. Majoring in environmental science at the University of Central Florida taught Diego the impact litter has on vegetation, groundwater, and soil. He said he and Lucas are committed to coming back and hauling trash away with as many trips as it takes.
“We would have stayed longer [Wednesday] but we ran out of room in Lucas’s car. Now that we have found the mother-load, we plan on returning to that area and picking up trash until it’s all gone,” said Diego.
The intrepid pair said they believe most of the trash is from tailgating parties. After all, their old school hosts a lot of athletic events and there is the Sportsplex nearby.
“The biggest problem litter causes the environment is that it exposes the wildlife to many dangers – getting caught or trapped in it,” Diego said, adding when animals eat garbage, it also poses a threat to their health.
Diego expressed concern over toxic soil and groundwater and said he wishes more people understood how much damage cigarette butts can do.
To share in the Santos brothers’ trash pick-up challenge, visit the Steven G. Paul dog park at 2915 Sportsplex Drive.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.