By Maddie Heid for The Island Eye News
How can you make a beach walk meaningful with a post and a couple of buckets? Manny Riona solved this question by creating Fill A Bag, an organization empowering people to turn ordinary beach strolls into meaningful walks, by providing reusable buckets to fill with the trash while they walk. Fill A Bag, founded in 2018, came to fruition after earning a small grant from Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge. Riona started deploying Fill A Bag stations in Key Biscayne, Florida. These stations include a wooden post with several buckets hanging on them.
The idea was that anyone could walk by, pick up a bucket, and start picking up plastic and trash.
Although a simple idea, the organization has created quite a name for itself.
Florida now has over 70 Fill A Bag locations. While walking on a beach in Key Biscayne, Natasha Viswanathan came along one of the Fill A Bag stations. “I care a lot about the environment. I compost, drive an electric car, and use bamboo paper products,” Viswanathan said. Inspired by the impact Fill A Bag had on beaches in Florida, Viswanathan brought the concept back to the Charleston area, where she is now a Mount Pleasant resident. From proposals to presentations, Viswanathan was able to get Fill A Bag stations deployed on Sullivan’s Island and the Beach Pavilion in Isle of Palms.
“These are the first two stations in South Carolina, and I hope people will take this and want to do one in their community,” Viswanathan said. Fill A Bag strives for people to go back to their community and create a station. If interested, one can reach out to Fill A Bag through their social media or website, and they will send you all the tools you need to create a station.
The station also includes a Fill A Bag QR code, which people can scan. The QR code allows people to log their trash, share their station, etc. “I think many people around here care about our waterways and our wildlife, so it’s a great thing to bring to the area,” Viswanathan said. Since putting up the stations, Viswanathan has received positive feedback from the Sullivan’s and Isle of Palms communities.
“Both town councils have said it is getting utilized,” Viswanathan added.
From kids to adults, boy scouts to volunteer groups, Fill A Bag is a meaningful project helping to make people aware of pollution and its impact on wildlife.
For more information or ways to get involved, visit fillabag.co.