Gear Closet Extends Hours; Supports Clean Water Initiatives, Locally And Globally

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Gear Closet, in North Chattanooga, is extending its hours. It will be open six days a week, from Tuesday through Sunday from 12-6 p.m. each day. Earth Day gear drive can encourage the public to do some spring cleaning and donate or consign your old gear and clothing. There will also be a drop off available at Recycle Signal on Signal Mountain as part of the Recycle Challenge between Nolan and Thrasher Elementary Schools on April 26. Also on April 26, they will be at the Outdoor Expo and Gear Swap in conjunction with Outdoor Chattanooga in Coolidge Park. If needed, you can call to arrange large items to be picked up. 

The Gear Closet inventory is made up entirely of donated and consigned items which is relied upon to keep shelves stocked with outdoor gear which will in turn provide funding for the non-profit CaribbeanSEA & TenneSEA (Student Environmental Alliance) which encourages young people to lead the way to clean water. Officials said, "We will also be offering our Kids 4 Clean Water camps this summer, at four locations around the city.  Start digging through your closets and garages because your extra gear can help clean up our community’s water!"

Environmental scientist and educator Mary Beth Sutton founded Caribbean SEA 10 years ago in an effort to empower young people in the Caribbean countries such as St. Lucia, Dominica, Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Curacao and Jamaica to care about and take action to protect their water.

“Tourism masks the extreme poverty in the Caribbean,” said Ms. Sutton. “That area of the world is often neglected because people only think about it in terms of tourism; however, the countries there are developing countries.”

More than 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean are dead or dying due to water pollution and climate change, Sutton explains. Caribbean SEA aims to reduce the stress on the reefs by reducing the land-based sources of pollution: sediment and sewage coming out the rivers.

“Many places in the Caribbean don’t have sewage treatment or controls for erosion or sewage,” said Ms. Sutton. “We work within the communities to help them deal with these problems. If our work is going to be sustainable, it has to start from within the community.

"Water pollution is not only a concern in the third-world countries of the Caribbean. Here in the Tennessee Valley, our rivers and streams are also contaminated due to faulty sanitation systems and pollution from industry. The Southeast is a hotspot for aquatic biological diversity, and yet our waterways have become some of the most imperiled ecosystems in the United States. That’s why Sutton expanded clean water programs to her hometown of Chattanooga five years ago through the creation of the Tennessee Student Environmental Alliance (TenneSEA). TenneSEA provides stormwater education programs, water monitoring activities for schools and communities, and Kids 4 Clean Water camp programs each summer."

  • Some recent Caribbean and Tennessee projects include:
  • Installing biogas digesters on farms in St. Lucia
  • Developing constructed wetland projects at resorts and communities in Curacao and Dominica
  • Installing green infrastructure for stormwater clean up with Red Bank High School and Thrasher Elementary School.
  • Teaching students at Kids 4 Clean Water Camps throughout the Caribbean

For more information, contact Mary Beth Sutton at 423 413-0471 or email

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