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Longboat Key Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020 1 year ago

Longboat-hosted workshop provides strategies for green living

The class, which addresses topics from red tide to LED light bulbs, will be taught once more Friday.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

If Smokey Bear had a Floridian friend — let’s call him Manny Manatee — what would he say for a catchphrase? Perhaps it would be, “Only you can prevent red tide.”

No one likes red tide, and although it is a natural occurrence, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium says it is “capable of using human-contributed nutrients for their growth.” Strategies that everyday Longboaters can use to mitigate water quality issues such as red tide, as well as those that save energy and waste, were at the heart of a sustainable living environmental workshop hosted by the town of Longboat Key on Friday morning.

The same workshop, taught by Sarasota County Sustainability Program supervisor Sara Kane and director Lee Hayes Byron, will be held again 10-11:30 a.m. Friday at Longboat Key Town Hall. It is a combination of three classes: one on green living, one on the New York Times bestselling book “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” by Paul Hawken and one on microplastics.

“We're here to be hopeful,” Byron said. “We're here to talk about solutions, and give everyone a sense of empowerment that they can be a positive contributor to improvements in our community.”

Mote was represented in the form of associate vice president Kevin Claridge, who said the aquarium is working closely with local governments to educate people about the coastal environment, including topics such as marine debris and microplastics. He encouraged people to attend events such as this workshop — Kane and Byron pointed out that they offer several classes through Sarasota County, but they tailored this session, with the help of the town, for a Longboat audience.

Robert Clarke (foreground) asks a question during a sustainable living workshop Friday morning at Longboat Key Town Hall.

Byron said the largest opportunity for local change is probably landscaping and added that there are strategies Floridians can use to reduce the number of pesticides and fertilizers that leak into Florida waterways.

Attendees asked questions about everything from LED light bulbs to recycling to, yes, red tide. Quizzes were incorporated into the class, and when it came time to guess which strategy in Hawken’s book said would make the largest impact on reversing climate change, only one person picked the correct answer: management of refrigerants.

On a similar note, food was listed as the top sector with the potential to reduce climate change. And the food sector was also represented in the audience. Lazy Lobster owner Michael Garey said it was a great presentation that taught him a lot.

“We are actively trying to find the best solutions for our business to limit the impact that not just my restaurant has, but our industry has,” Garey, who was particularly intrigued by the topic of refrigerants, said.

One attendee, Robert Clarke, enjoyed the apolitical nature of the presentation, saying Kane and Byron focused on simple reality. He thinks Florida’s tourism, and thus its economy, could be hindered if people aren’t more cautious about their impact on the local environment.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of support from bipartisan community members to protect our local environment,” Byron said. “Everyone loves a clean beach, everyone wants to go for a walk in the woods. ... We all want to take advantage of this beautiful community we live in.”

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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