How 3 organizations keep Alabama beautiful for future generations


(Freshwater Land Trust)
(Rachel Callahan)

Each year, several local organization work tirelessly to protect and preserve Alabama’s land and waterways. Their work is supported by Coca-Cola UNITED, which is committed to being a good steward of the communities in which it operates. The Birmingham-headquartered company is proud to support three organizations in Alabama that work tirelessly to protect and preserve the state’s land and waterways.

Keep reading to learn more about the Osprey Initiative, Freshwater Land Trust and Alabama PALS—and how each help to keep Alabama beautiful.

Osprey Initiative

(Freshwater Land Trust)
The Litter Gitter is a litter removal project that has removed tens of thousands of pounds of litter from Alabama waterways. (Freshwater Land Trust)

Founded in 2017, Osprey Initiative is an environmental contractor that utilizes patented technology to intelligently develop solutions to some of our most complex litter issues. The organization is best known for developing the innovative Litter Gitter, an in-stream trash collection device that intercepts floating litter with minimal impact on the surrounding environment.

“We want to attack litter in the water smartly and move that battle further and further upstream. It’s a lot easier to clean litter from a small creek than from the ocean. Through education and recycling, we can help keep that litter from ever entering our waterways.”

Don Bates, Owner & Founder, Osprey Initiative

In addition to the Litter Gitter, Osprey Initiative has developed the Litter Boom—a floating barrier that tactically prevents litter from floating downstream—and the Litter Interceptor—a customizable stormwater inlet protection device perfect for capturing litter before they enter stormwater drains.

However, the success of the Litter Gitter presents its own problem—what do you do with thousands of pounds of trash?

“The recyclables we collect are mainly aluminum cans and plastics, and Coca-Cola UNITED actually introduced us to Indorama Ventures‘ location in North Alabama—one of the biggest plastic recyclers in the country. Coca-Cola UNITED is so committed to recycling that we’ve seen the price of recycled plastics increase two or three times compared to a few years ago.”

Don Bates, Owner & Founder, Osprey Initiative

Freshwater Land Trust

Litter Gitter in Action
(Freshwater Land Trust)

The Freshwater Land Trust has helped conserve, connect and care for land and water in Central Alabama since 1996. Each year, the Freshwater Land Trust works to protect land and expand trail systems—such as the Red Rock Trail System—for Alabama communities to enjoy.

“The Freshwater Land Trust currently conserves and manages almost 10,000 acres in Alabama. By maintaining these areas and keeping them pristine, our goal is to preserve Alabama’s natural beauty for future generations.”

Katie Holmes, Outreach and Communications Coordinator, Freshwater Land Trust

In 2020, the Freshwater Land Trust teamed up with Osprey Initiative to help fund Litter Gitter projects throughout the state.

“After we received an EPA grant to fund six Litter Gitters in Alabama, we were thrilled to see other people and organizations come forward to fund additional Litter Gitters. Coca-Cola UNITED was one of those partners! Since 2020, they’ve funded a Litter Gitter at East Lake Park that has collected over 1,400 pounds of trash.”

Katie Holmes, Outreach and Communications Coordinator, Freshwater Land Trust

As of early 2023, the Litter Gitter project has removed 20,000+ pounds of trash from Alabama’s waterways.

Alabama PALS

(Alabama PALS)
(Alabama PALS)

Alabama People Against A Littered State (ALPALS) is a statewide organization focused on cleaning up litter in Alabama’s streets, streams, campuses and coastlines. Founded in 1987, Alabama PALS organizes several successful statewide litter prevention programs, such as the Coastal Cleanup—an annual effort that has removed roughly 1.7 million pounds of litter and debris from Alabama’s coastal areas, beaches, bays and more over the past 35 years.

“We coordinate the Alabama Coastal Cleanup in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup, on the 3rd Saturday of September. We usually get around 4,000 people cleaning up 30+ zones along the coast, and it’s been one of the most successful Coastal Cleanups in the country.”

Spencer Ryan, Executive Vice President, Alabama PALS

In addition to the Coastal Cleanup, Alabama PALS’ organizes the annual “Don’t Drop it on Alabama” Spring Cleanup. During the month-long cleanup in April, Alabama PALS provides all supportive cleanup material at no cost to participants from nearly every Alabama county. Thanks to thousands of volunteers, this cleanup saves Alabama millions of dollars each year.

“For the past five years, Coca-Cola UNITED has been the title sponsor of the ‘Don’t Drop It On Alabama’ Spring Cleanup. They have been wonderful partners and are the most hands-on, genuine group we’ve ever worked with.”

Spencer Ryan, Executive Vice President, Alabama PALS

That’s not all—Alabama PALS has partnered with the Alabama Community College System and Coca-Cola UNITED to award scholarships to the community college that picks up the most litter through the Clean Campus program.

“This program has been a huge success, thanks to the support from Coca-Cola UNITED. Alabama’s Community Colleges have really jumped in and embraced this program!”

Spencer Ryan, Executive Vice President, Alabama PALS

Supporting sustainability in Alabama

(Coca-Cola UNITED)
(Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED)

Founded in 1902 and headquartered in Birmingham, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED has grown tremendously over the past few years, tripling the size and scope of its business with and employing 10,000+ associates in the Southeast. Thanks to their success, Coca-Cola UNITED is able to support and work with numerous organizations promoting sustainability in Alabama.

“At Coca-Cola UNITED, we always want to be good stewards of our resources. We’re always looking for opportunities to engage with our partners; whether its with students on a college campus, people seeing a concert at an event venue, fans going to an athletic event or anything in-between. Our vessels are meant to be recycled, and we want to collect those aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastic bottles for re-use.”

Andy Britton, Director, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc.

Click here to learn more about Coca-Cola UNITED’s sustainability efforts, such as the Litter Gitter sponsored by Coca-Cola UNITED in East Lake!

Do you volunteer with the Freshwater Land Trust, Osprey Initiative, Alabama PALS or any other organization taking care of Alabama’s natural resources? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

Sponsored by:

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer + Photographer

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