Small Business, Big Impact. Litter Abatement Award Winner: Capital Cruises

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 3:06pm

By Jill Capotosto, Volunteer Engagement Intern

It’s not quite enough to say Lady Bird Lake is an Austin icon, because Austin simply wouldn’t be Austin without it. The lake is an inescapable part of being an Austinite—it’s where we go for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. It’s the heart of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and the home to the world-famous South Congress bat colony. It’s one of the city’s most visited sites, attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually. Though it’s easy to think of our beloved lake as one unlike any other, it’s not immune to one of the major problems plaguing lakes and rivers throughout the country: litter. And in our rapidly growing city, more people will result in more trash.

Kayaks from Capital Cruises help volunteers keep the lake clean, so everyone can enjoy kayaking.

To ensure our pride and joy remains a place we can enjoy, Keep Austin Beautiful in partnership with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department launched Clean Lady Bird Lake, an initiative to conduct large-scale bimonthly lake cleanups. Capital Cruises has been an enthusiastic leader of this program since the beginning. In addition to being a Silver Sponsor for the cleanups, the local cruise company is a boat donor and Lake Leader. They host cleanups at their site and donate canoes and kayaks to help volunteers grab hard-to-reach trash. Over the past year, Capital Cruises helped remove over 1900 pounds of trash from the lake. They’ve found everything from bicycles to toys to furniture, and even a message in a bottle with the wedding vows of a newlywed couple!

Let’s hope these lovebirds vowed not to litter again!

Beyond cleanups, Capital Cruises connects youth to nature by donating boats for youth paddle expeditions. The company is also Keep Austin Beautiful Clean Sweep partner. The city-wide service day spans over 130 sites across 31 zip codes throughout Austin and results in 29 tons of trash removed by 4,000 plus volunteers annually.

Capital Cruises doesn’t stop at taking trash out of the lake; to prevent trash from getting there in the first place, they encourage their guests to responsibly dispose of trash, both on and off Capital Cruises’ boats. Their website includes information to educate guests about the origins of trash in Lady Bird Lake, reminding them that trash can be blown out of over full bins, and any litter that doesn’t make it to the dump will likely end up in the lake.

Volunteers in Capital Cruises canoes take on the trash in Lady Bird Lake.

Just as inextricable a part of the city as Lady Bird Lake, local businesses are a major part of what makes Austin, Austin. Capital Cruises’ altruism serves as a model and inspiration for small business philanthropy in our city. To honor their commitment to a beautiful, one-of-a-kind city and its more-than-iconic lake, Keep Austin Beautiful is pleased to recognize Capital Cruises with the Samsung Litter Abatement Award!

Join us in recognizing Capital Cruises and the rest of our 2016 Keep Austin Beautiful Award Winners at Beautify Bash on November 17th at Umlauf Sculpture Garden.