Community Garden. Photo credit: Nicole Coudal
Jessica's Farm. Photo credit: Nicole Coudal

10 Ways to Keep Sarasota County Beautiful for Future Generations

Everyday ways to ensure our area remains healthy, enjoyable and viable.

There are several national celebrations coming up that draw attention to our environment. June 5 is World Environment Day, and June 8 is World Oceans Day — opportunities to highlight natural resources, learn how to to preserve those resources, and participate in ways, no matter how small, to ensure longevity of the place we call home.

Sarasota County offers beautiful waterways, award-winning beaches, a habitat for sea turtles to nest, abundant seafood, thriving agriculture, clean air, balmy climate, and more, but sometimes it’s easy to move through our daily routines and forget about what we can do to ensure these things are available to future generations. So let’s make every day Earth Day! Here are a few ways to help:

Keep Trash out of Public Areas

Sarasota County has a team that keeps beaches, parks and public areas clean, but each of us can help by placing trash into receptacles and picking up light trash that crosses our paths — this reduces the likelihood that it will end up in the path of a Sea Turtle, a fish, a Gopher Tortoise, or even clog a stormwater drain. You can also check out Keep Sarasota County Beautiful, which organizes projects like The Great American Cleanup (Spring), The Liberty Litter Cleanup (Summer), and The International Coastal Clean Up (Fall).

Plant a Tree or Native Plant

Plants contribute to healthy air, and many even attract pollinators, vital elements for ecosystem success. And native plants are acclimated to our climate, reducing (or eliminating) the need for water or pesticides, all while adding beauty. The folks at Florida Native Plants Nursery are happy to share their knowledge of native plants, but also check out Albritton’s Nursery, Crowley Nursery & Gardens, and Your Farm & Garden. The Florida House also offers great tools for sustainable planting, and more.

Recycle and Reuse

Fortunately, we live in a place that requires household recycling, but we can reduce our volume by using less plastic, which limits volume in landfills and lessens harmful gases. Consider stainless steel or glass bottles, get a reusable coffee mug, use cloth vs. plastic grocery bags, donate household items, re-purpose items, or buy something used/recycled. 

Support Eco-Friendly Restaurants

Several offer biodegradable options including non-plastic straws and takeout containers (like The Beachhouse on Anna Maria, and Green Zebra Cafe in Sarasota), or commit to sustainable practices like recycling used cooking oil, sourcing products that reduce waste, partnering with local farms, and utilizing sustainable resources, like Gecko’s Grill & Pub, Indigenous, Lila or Boca Sarasota. Supporting them helps ensure they’ll be able to keep doing what they’re doing.

Buy from Local Farms

We have many local farmers who work hard to grow nutritious food. Buying from them supports the local economy because dollars stay in our community, creating

jobs and supporting families, plus, the food is fresher, tastes great, and has more nutrients because it hasn’t traveled a long distance to get to us (which reduces the amount of energy consumed!).

Live like a local

Staying in Sarasota County for a longer stay? Consider these following tips, especially if you might be RV camping or have an interest in learning more about local produce and and farms.

Adopt a Highway

Keep Sarasota Beautiful also manages an Adoption program that encourages citizens to participate in an anti-litter campaign by supporting a stretch of road or area (you may have seen their signs around the County).

Join a Community Garden

If you live in a high-rise building or deed restricted area, you might not be able to plant a garden. But that shouldn’t stop you if you love gardening, because Sarasota County’s Extension Office oversees many community gardens throughout the County. They’re a great way to get your hands dirty, spend time with folks who have common interests, reduce food costs, and reduce pollution by lowering carbon dioxide levels and increasing oxygen levels, all while creating habitats for insects and animals.

Get a Rain Barrel

Generally, we can collect about 1/2 gallon of water per square foot of roof area during a 1-inch rainfall, so a house with a 2,000 square foot roof can get about 1,000 gallons of water in a heavy rain! That water can be used for targeted yard and plant irrigation, all while reducing the amount of stormwater runoff that can bring harmful materials to our waterways.


If you cook, you know it’s easy to generate food waste via kitchen scraps so, rather than clogging precious landfill space, consider composting. By mixing scarps with yard waste, along with important elements of heat, bugs and water, the result is rich, organic soil that retains moisture and enriches depleted soil. Sunshine Community Compost is hosting a Compost-A-Thon May 12 during National Compost Week, encouraging folks to deposit scraps into a community receptacle, keeping it out of the landfill. The Extension Office even offers classes and tools to get started.

Volunteer to Glean

Gleaning dates back centuries. It’s the process of farmers sharing crops with those in need, while helping themselves keep their fields rotated, and reducing volume of waste. Volunteers pick the produce, then it’s packed by All Faiths Food Bank, which distributes it to underserved populations. Transition Sarasota manages the effort — its mission is to create food and economic security in our area by supporting local, sustainable sources and providing education.


Nicole Coudal is a writer and home-chef based in southwest Florida, where she fishes and cooks using local ingredients. When not on the water, she visits farms, farmer’s markets, and other food-related venues to highlight what’s in-season and to create tasty recipes. Read more at