From butts to bottle caps, it all comes with the adoption process

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

From cigarette butts to Styrofoam cups and everything in between, the folks who help keep the streets of Destin clean have seen it all but are happy to help as part of the city's Adopt-A-Street Program.

"We enjoy it," said Matthew Sweetser of Compass Resorts, who picks up along Beach Drive between U.S. Highway 98 and Legion Drive.

Sweetser said he's been part of the program for about three years.

However, this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, they haven't been out much as a group to pick up along the road.

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"I have gone out myself and done some. ... If I see something I stop and grab it and other people do, too," he said.

Sweetser said the most common things he sees along the street are cigarette butts and foam cups from gas stations.

"People just toss it out their windows," he said.

Sweetser said being part of the program is a way to give back to the community.

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"With us being in the tourism industry, we bring a lot of these people here, and with Beach Drive having five our our local churches ... tourists that come use them," he said. "It's a good way to help take back some of the impact of tourism."

The Adopt-A-Street program in Destin has been around since 2008, with about 20 family, businesses and community groups currently participating. 

Volunteers for the Adopt-A-Street program in Destin gather at City Hall in 2017 before going out to pick up litter on their designated street.

But there are still many streets left to be adopted, such as Kelly Street, Airport Road, Mountain Drive and Main Street.

If you'd like to be part of the program, contact the city's Adopt-A-Street coordinator, Erica Eliason, at 850-837-6869 or visit www.cityofdestin.com and type “adopt” in the search pane.

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Groups who participate in the program get their names listed on the city of Destin's website, and a sign is installed on their adopted street or area.

"Ideally, groups will pick up litter quarterly or more often, depending on conditions," said Michael G. Burgess, Destin's director of public works and emergency manager.

The Wood family has adopted Misty Way in Destin.

Jim Wood, a former city councilman, has been part of the program for more than 10 years.

Wood said he started out with Main Street, but for the past seven or eight years he and his wife Renee and daughter Megan have adopted Misty Way, a residential street they call home.

He said they try to get out quarterly to pick up litter.

"My wife likes to sweep up cigarette butts, that's one of her favorite things," he said, noting that tends to lengthen the time of their walk.

The stretch of road the Woods clean up is about a half-mile long.

"For us, we like taking care of our street," Wood said. 

Wood said some of the most common things they find are "bottle caps, paper ...  just small things, never anything big."

He said they usually carry along a 3-gallon bucket with long tongs to pick up things.

"I tend to focus on things that people in cars will see when they drive by," he said. "Sometimes I pass some things that I think nobody will see, but my wife wants to get everything cleaned up."

Compass Resorts has adopted a portion of Beach Drive in Destin.

If you'd like to be a part of the Adopt-A-Street Program, the city is organizing a cleanup day on Jan. 25.

"We would encourage anyone interested in helping keep Destin beautiful to call our office if they have any questions, and our first scheduled cleanup for 2021 will be on Saturday, Jan. 25. We will be meeting at City Hall at 7:30 a.m.," Burgess said.