The mangroves and bushes along coastal South Beach on the southeastern coast of New Providence got a much-needed cleanup on Saturday as hundreds of Bahamians joined forces with Blue Lagoon Island’s Project BEACH to participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s 36th annual International Coastal Cleanup.
Volunteers from all over the world gather every year along coastlines and waterways to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup®. Many walk, others set out on boats and thousands more don scuba gear to seek trash below the water’s surface.
This year the New Providence team headed back to the coastline adjacent to the public South Beach Pools, an area individual groups have already been to clean up multiple times this year.
Despite the ongoing efforts, hundreds of pounds of trash, mostly items that had been deliberately dumped, were removed as part of Saturday’s effort.
The local event was organized by Blue Lagoon Island’s non-profit Project B.E.A.C.H.
Caribbean Bottling Company, local producer of Coca Cola was onboard again this year as the major sponsor, providing beverages to keep participants hydrated as well Coca Cola gear. The Caribbean Bottling Company team also grabbed some gloves to help remove the trash from the mangroves. Coca Cola is the international lead sponsor of the global event as part of its World Without Waste initiative and the Circular Seas project which is a commitment to reducing waste that ends up in our marine environment.
Jonathan Thronebury, Caribbean Bottling Company Marketing Director spoke about the amount of trash that the group discovered dumped in the area.
“It’s a bit disheartening. As a Bahamian I would hope that our people would be a bit more proud of their environment. We go to great lengths to make this a beautiful country for the people that visit and I think we should extend that same pride and commitment to ourselves so that we have beautiful places to take our families and friends,” he said.
Blue Lagoon Island Education Supervisor Te-Shalla Clarke coordinates the cleanup efforts and echoed the sentiment.
“It is discouraging to see the amount of trash that people are just callously just throwing away and don’t care about the impact on the environment. This is where we swim, where we hang out. Why would you want to do this to where we live? But the encouraging part about it is that if we continue to do these cleanups, we will make a difference. We continue to let people know that there are better options than just throwing your trash on the side of the road or in the bushes and the mangroves,” she said.
A number of local community service and student enrichment programs pitched in to help with the South Beach Pools area cleanup. The students and young adults participating represented the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA), a number of Boy’s Brigade companies, a number of local private schools as well as Rotary Clubs of the Bahamas.
Jacquetta Maycock, National Director for the GGYA said the organization supports these cleanup efforts because they utilize areas like the South Beach Pools for training exercises and also to get the younger generation involved early in hopes of realizing long-term change.
“It doesn’t matter where you live, this garbage and dumping affects all of us. As adults, we do a disservice to our younger generation when we don’t expose them and make them aware that you can be functioning in your own bubble and think that everything is just perfect, but when you come out into the wider world and you see that everything is not perfect, but we can all make a difference, help and lend a hand. That shared responsibility for taking care of the environment enables them to then pass it on,” she said.
As groups gathered garbage, a critical component of the exercise was the recording of what was actually collected. This data is submitted to the Ocean Conservancy for a global tally and database.
The students also came across an alarming number of discarded appliances, but were only able to transport a few of them into the dumpster that was provided by Bahamas Waste.
Another sponsor was Bahamas Wholesale Agencies who donated personal hand sanitizers to help keep everyone safe and clean and snacks for after the cleanup was complete.
The International Coastal Cleanup engages people to remove trash and debris from the world’s beaches and waterways, to identify the sources of debris, and to change the behaviours that cause pollution. The event is not just about pollution cleanup, it is about pollution prevention.
Roscoe Turnquest, one of the leaders of the 23rd company of Boys Brigade was also shocked to see the amount of garbage that has been dumped in the area.
“I’m so disappointed to come out here and really see how some of our people think. That they would come out here and tote garbage from their homes and throw it literally all over the place. If you love the Bahamas, you’ll keep it clean. It is very important to bring the young people out here to participate because this is their country and they are the future. If we expose them to this then hopefully they will go on to be more concerned about the environment and will make a difference.”
International Coastal Cleanup focuses on educating and empowering people to become a part of the marine debris solution.
Blue Lagoon Island’s Project B.E.A.C.H. holds beach cleanups throughout the year. Contact Te-Shalla Clarke at 359-0278 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to participate or support these efforts. To learn more about the International Coastal Cleanup visit www.oceanconservancy.org.