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Red tide may be subsiding in Southwest Florida, but Marco Island and surrounding communities have seen a suspected aftermath of dead shorebirds, dolphins and other sea life. And if there’s any good to be had from this and other environmental disasters across the nation and world in recent years, it’s that interest and donations to environmental and animal welfare organizations are on the rise.

According to a report released in 2017 from Giving USA, interest in charities involved with animal welfare support and environmental issues rose 5.8 percent when adjusted for inflation.

Even though the first piece of legislation concerning widespread environmental concerns in the United States was the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1948, environmental causes are still gaining steam.

The discovery of a growing hole in the ozone layer prompted change in the mid-1980s, as did the devastating Exxon Valdez tanker spill. However, environmental issues have gained considerably more attention over the last two decades than they used to. As a result, curbside recycling, solar energy, electric cars, low-energy light bulbs, and reusable tote bags are now some of the eco-friendly mainstays of everyday life.

A 2014 report from the World Wildlife Fund noted that 39 percent of marine wildlife had disappeared in the 40 years preceding the report's release. In addition, the WWF notes that 27 percent of the world's coral reefs, which are home to one-fourth of all known marine fish species, have been lost.

If the current rates of coral reef destruction continue, more than 60 percent of the reefs will be gone in the next three decades. And that depletion won't just affect scuba divers impressed by the stunning beauty of coral reefs, as the WWF notes that coral reef fisheries across the globe account for billions of dollars of revenue each year.

Environmentalists have founded numerous charities with a goal of protecting the planet and its natural resources. Donating directly or volunteering with environment- or animal-based charities is one way to elicit environmental change. Yet, there are other philanthropic efforts people can take of their own volition.

Target trash

Men and women can organize like-minded individuals who can make a difference by ridding parks, beaches and public recreation areas of as much litter as possible. Litter can impact ecosystems, adversely affect animal welfare and threaten humans. All it takes to make a difference are some volunteers to sweep areas of trash and discard it responsibly.

On Marco Island, you can attend a monthly cleanup with the Friends of Tigertail. Visit

www.friendsoftigertail.com. In Naples, visit keepcollierbeautiful.com.

Support animal welfare groups

Thousands of relinquished or lost pets reside in area shelters awaiting homes. Adopt family pets from shelters to help reduce overpopulation. Spreading the word about animal adoption is another noble effort. Also, giving to these groups can be a big help, as some run on donations alone.

On Marco Island, visit fortheloveofcatsfl.com. In Naples, visit the Humane Society at hsnaples.org;

Shy Wolf Sanctuary at shywolfsanctuary.org; and the Von Arx Wildlife Hospital at conservancy.org.

Educate others

Share knowledge about alternative products and techniques for lawn and garden care, pool maintenance, home upkeep, and more that are less harmful to the environment than standard techniques. Share your thoughts with friends and neighbors directly or broadcast them on social media.

For tips visit Florida Friendly landscaping at ffl.ifas.ufl.edu; or read Gardening at marconews.com.

Advocate for change

Speak at town hall meetings and with legislators about what can be done to promote environmental protection in your community. Raise funds where possible to implement small actions that can lead to change.  

If you have concerns about Florida’s environment, write your governor or congressman today. More information can be found at www.wwf.panda.org and www.plasticoceans.org.

According to the Plastic Oceans Foundation, more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world's oceans every year, and estimates suggest that roughly 50 percent of plastic is used just once and thrown away.

The dumping of plastic into the ocean poses a serious threat to both marine life and human beings. Plastic Oceans notes that 70 percent of the oxygen humans breathe is produced by marine plants, which are under attack as more and more plastic finds its way into the world's oceans. We can do their part to cut back on the plastic finding its way into the oceans by relying more on reusable products, such as cloth grocery bags and reusable water bottles.

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