Recycling for rescuers:Destin tenant recycles cans on the beach and contributes proceeds

Jordan Swanson
One way folks can contribute to the lifeguarding cause is to advertise on the bottom of a beach safety paddleboard. Cost is $2,000 for three years.

A resident at Seafarer Condominiums taught Destin resident Clyde Hodges that recycling can save lives.

“They have their beach tenant take care of collecting the cans and selling them,” said Hodges. “They take the proceeds from the cans and invest it in the beach safety group — it seems to work pretty well.”

Hodges is a retired engineer who lives in townhouses next to Seafarer, and said that he just happened to notice this collection effort one day and thought that it was a “neat way to do things.”

“Safety is something we all need, so anything we can do to help the safety people, that’s a great thing,” Hodges said.

Night and day, the beach tenant, who wishes to remain anonymous, has four recycling trashcans located near Seafarer with signs on them that read 100 percent of proceeds go to Destin Beach Safety.

“I monitor mine all day long,” said the man. “I go reach in, pull cans out where people put them in the wrong one … “

He has been collecting and recycling the cans on the beach for about five years.

“One day, I had some big ole boys from Arkansas that were drinking a ton of beer and I started that day,” he said of what inspired his recycling habits.

He takes the cans to Metal Recycling at 1793 F I M Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach, which can be contacted at 862-8117.

He only visits the recycling company when he has about eight big trash bags full of aluminum cans and other metals. During peak season, he’d take them in every week, but now it’s not nearly as often.

He said there is no set amount of money for turning in the metals, as the exchange rate fluctuates.

Over the years, he has contributed 30 sets of fins and gas money to the Destin Beach Safety Program — all with proceeds from recycled cans.

Most recently, he contributed an approximately $1,800 rescue paddleboard to lifeguards at the beginning of summer 2012.

“Some of this money I take out of my pocket,” he said, estimating that it will take 1½ to 2 years to pay for the rescue board with recycled proceeds. ”It’s not about me, it’s about the amount of garbage we can eliminate and the amount of money we can give to beach safety,” he said. “It’s about the lifeguards and the lives they save…”

Destin Fire Control District Beach Safety Division Chief Joe D’Agostino commended the tenant’s generosity adding “we need all the help that we can get to help protect everyone and keep everyone safe out here.”

In 2005, Destin Beach Safety number crunchers recorded 1.5 million patrons hitting the beach during lifeguard season from March to October.

“We are currently at 2.2 million for 2012 — last year we saw 2.5 million visitors,” said D’Agostino. “The reason for the discrepancy is weather related as we recorded one of the highest rainfall totals in August. This does not mean the visitors were not in town, they were just not on the beach that month.”

“We are having more and more people come to Destin every year,” D’Agostino continued, “and we are in need of having quality equipment to make sure we can keep up with our growing population.”

To learn more about how to contribute to Destin Beach Safety Program, contact D’Agostino at 850-685-0408.

“The thing that’s important to me is to try to get from the Jetties to the county line involved in this, and it doesn’t take that much of an effort,” said the tenant. “Most people like to recycle.”

“There are so many cans that in the course of even eight months when it’s fairly busy, that … I would not be surprised if they can make $20,000 in a year — and I think that’s a low estimate…”