|DEMA's Diving Community Champion Award recognizes DEMA Member companies using diving to benefit their communities and the public. Here we'd like to recognize and feature one of the nominees from the 2019 award season. Thank you for your contribution to our industry!
With nearly 18 billion pounds of plastic entering the ocean each year, the staff at Patriot Scuba always has an eye out for ways to improve our environment, especially our waterways. Located on the Occoquan River, a tributary to the Potomac, we are reminded daily about the trash that finds its way into our water. Whether it is blowing down the driveway or washing into our parking lot heading toward the river or floating by, already in the river, we are constantly reminded of the damage trash can do. To help, we routinely clean up the trash in our lot to prevent it from entering the river and perform several river dives a year to clean out the trash that has already found its way into the Occoquan. With these ongoing projects, it only seemed natural for us to look for other ways to prevent more plastics from polluting our waterways. By chance, one of our owners, Merial, read about the Trex Bags to Benches program that her neighborhood was participating in and decided that Patriot Scuba could team up with Trex for a program in their town. Patriot Scuba is located in the small Historic Town of Occoquan which is home to about 1,000 people and over 50 businesses. One of the longest standing issues in town is the lack of places to sit and relax along the sidewalks and town dock in the Historic District. Bags to benches seemed like a natural solution to the seating problem. The program was presented to Dessie Larson, our Project Aware Coordinator, she loved the idea and ran with it. Dessie signed us up with Trex and picked a 6 month period during which we had to collect 500 pound of stretchy film in order for Trex to donate a bench to us. We could then keep the bench or donate it to any organization of our choosing. With huge community support, we reached our goal in less than 4 months and asked a fellow diver who also owns a shop in Occoquan to sign up for the program and report the plastic that came in after we reached our goal until our next 6 month period came around as Trex will only donate 1 bench to an organization in 6 months. To date, we have collected over 1257 pounds of stretchy film plastic like the kinds found in shopping bags and single use water bottles. We are well on our way to our 3rd bench and will keep going until we run out of space for benches. The community has embraced this project and we have new people coming in daily to drop off their plastic. It takes approximately 49,500 grocery store bags to make 500 pounds. End to end, that is just shy of 10 miles of plastic that will not be entering our oceans for every 500 pounds we collect!
- Nomination submitted by Merial Currer, Patriot Scuba