Destin woman doing her part to make beaches better, one day and one bag at a time
With a glove on one hand and three grocery bags in the other, Lucille Rogers makes her way up and down the beach of Destin most every morning "doing her part” to keep the beaches clean.
“If I see it, I’ve got to get it. I can’t pass it,” she said.
For several years now, Rogers, 66, has been walking the beach and picking up trash.
“I stay about two hours when I come out, but I walk far,” she said.
She starts at June White Decker Park and walks the beach to Henderson Beach State Park most days.
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On Tuesday morning, she had filled two bags of trash in less than 100 yards.
“It’s all disgusting stuff,” she said as she peered into one of her bags.
Over the years Rogers has found practically everything — diapers, juice boxes, straws, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic hangers, clothes tags, goggles, lemon and lime slices, and even cherries.
"If they leave it here, it winds up in the water, and then sometimes I get stuff that comes out of the water, and the reason I know is, it is full of moss. So that means a bottle made a trip and it made it back,” she said.
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“It’s really depressing,” Rogers said. “I’m one person, but people say thank you to me … but I say I’m just doing my part. People that come to visit really need to know that when they leave, take their junk with them."
Rogers has a mantra of sorts as she walks the beach picking up stuff: “recycle, reuse and sustain.”
Big plastic jugs or bottles can be recycled and beach toys, goggles and such can be reused. She donates reusable toys to the Harvest House in Destin. And her husband, Will, uses the plastic jugs in his garden.
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The three bags are her way of sorting through the stuff. One bag is for recyclables, one for reuse and one is for just trash.
“It just makes me feel better that I do something,” she said.
Rogers, who retired right before the pandemic, said she tries to come out every morning.
“It’s exercise and it gets me near the water,” she said. “I’ve been doing it forever … years.”
And since she retired, she has made it her “business” to come out every day.
Even last year during the pandemic, she walked the beach picking up trash while wearing a mask.
The litter has gotten worse this year, she said.
“I used to walk around and just pick up a few things and walk them to the trash can and be done with it. Now I have bags, and that was from just right here,” she said pointing to the area at June White Decker Park.
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“If I had walked all the way to Henderson, I’d have a bag full of toys and bottles,” she said.
As for Rogers' motivation, it's simple.
“Because I live here and I love the water and I want to sustain it and make it better if I can,” she said. “I come swimming here. I take my grandkids here. I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to swim next to a big piece of watermelon … I don’t know many people who would.”