Sophie Ringel keeping Miami Beach clean
She's keeping our environment clean for now and the future.
If you have been out to our local parks, beaches and bay area and have noticed that they are much cleaner and less polluted, you can thank Sophie for that. Sophie Ringel, founder of CLEAN MIAMI BEACH, has a huge passion, and that is to keep our beaches clean and make our city more eco-friendly. Let’s get
up close and personal with Sophie to discuss how she got started with CLEAN MIAMI BEACH.
MBL: Tell us a little about yourself, where were you born, school attended, nationality, etc?
SOPHIE: My name is Sophie, I was born and raised in Germany where I studied graphic design. I lived in Munich
and was working as an executive assistant in the banking industry. In 2015 while vacationing in Miami Beach I
met a local resident developed a friendship. A year later we decided to marry and make our life in America,
as he didn't speak German. As most young couples we moved in with my in-laws until we had enough money
to buy a condo in Miami Beach, the place where we originally met.
"The worse fear for us is to see the extinction of our
MBL: How many clean ups do you produce per year?
SOPHIE: Clean Miami Beach hosts weekly beach clean ups, however we sometimes have to do emergency cleanups when someone contacts us about a specific area that is in need. In 2019 CMB held 55 clean ups, and in 2020 it will be a total of 45 clean ups.
MBL: Strangest thing you have found during a clean up?
SOPHIE: During our cleanups CMB has found some very strange and sometimes valuable things. Some of the strange things we have found are old VHS recorder, Christmas lights, all sorts of very old electronics, creepy voodoo dolls, and the list goes on. We have also found money, and people wallets, ID's, and even once found an engagement ring which we took to the police.
MBL: What made you start clean up miami beach?
SOPHIE: When I moved to Miami Beach I would love to go on walks on the beach. During these walks I noticed that there was so much plastic everywhere I went. The beach was filled with littered single-use plastic every single day. I had to do something about this and started to pick it up as I went on my walks. During one of these beach walks I saw another girl picking up trash on the beach and connected with her. We decided to get together every Tuesday to pick up. We then invited some friends to join us and the group grew bigger and bigger each week. This is when I decided to take it to the next level and started Clean Miami Beach. It makes me feel great to know that something that started with 1 person, inspired and engaged thousands of Miamians and visitors.
MBL: What's your goal with your clean up?
SOPHIE: Clean Miami Beach's main goal is not to pick trash, but rather raise awareness and inspire our community to ditch single-use plastic. During our cleanups we discuss the importance of how our actions affect our environment, and what we can do to minimize
that. Simple things like switching to a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones makes a huge difference. We also do educational talks to schools and businesses about how they can be more environmentally friendly.
MBL: What's your worse fear for climate change?
SOPHIE: The worse fear for us is to see the extinction of our marine life, due to our own actions or inactions. Even the loss of one species like the loggerhead turtle would be catastrophic for us.
MBL: What's your profession besides producing clean up?
SOPHIE: Currently, I have 2-day jobs. I am a full-time Executive Assistant in an international firm, and I also have a part-time job as a bookkeeper, accounts payable associate.
MBL: What are some of your hobbies away from clean ups?
SOPHIE: I love spending time on the water. This is my happy place. Just being out there and listening to the ocean. I also use every chance to go hiking in the mountains while traveling. Creating art out of the collected plastic is another hobby of mine.
MBL: Why are you so passionate about clean up?
SOPHIE: When you connect with nature and feel its true beauty, there is no other choice but to protect it. Nature gives us life, I feel it's the most natural thing to do. It's a wonderful feeling of falling in love by giving back
MBL: Married? Single? Kids?
SOPHIE: I am happily married, and a very proud dog-mom. Buddy, who we rescued this year, sometimes helps out at the cleanups. I love animals, animals mean everything to me.
MBL: Where do you see yourself and Clean up Miami Beach in 10 years?
SOPHIE: 10 years from now I see Clean Miami Beach reaching a point through education and outreach we are making a significant impact on waste and pollution reduction. My plan is to reach the point where nationally and worldwide people take notice and decide to make a change. I believe that we will get there, not only through our efforts but also the efforts of the many other organizations fighting for the same cause. I know we will make a change, and Clean Miami Beach will be part of it.
"It’s devastating how much more plastic this pandemic
has brought us."sophie
MBL: Are you finding more masks during your clean up? Your thoughts on disposable masks?
SOPHIE: It's devastating how much more plastic this pandemic has brought us. Back in March, it started with the single-use plastic gloves and now it's the masks. Every time I go outdoors for a walk, I find so many littered disposable masks. We should not only be protecting ourselves but also the environment. Disposable masks are not recyclable nor biodegradable. We should use reusable facemasks whenever we can.
MBL: How has your partnership been with the city of miami beach?
SOPHIE: The City of Miami Beach is great to work with. We got support from the very first day and are grateful to be living in such a wonderful city where we feel such great engagement by our government. We've even had a clean up with the chief of police and PAL. Additionally, all the commissioners and city officials are very grateful and supportive of what we do.