Wouldn’t it be great if all the beaches on Grand Bahama were free of litter and unsightly debris? If some of our streets did not resemble the aftermath of a tornado hitting a dumpster full of garbage? No matter how many times the roadside and beach area garbage is picked up, some people still cannot seem to quench their lust to litter. We may not be able to change the habits of hardcore litterbugs, but maybe, just maybe, with persistence we can set an example that others will follow.
Proof that persistence pays off is apparent in one area located in Bahama Terrace. A neighborhood group on Port of Call Drive has come together to fight the war on waste. Little by little they are winning back areas of their neighborhood that used to be dump sites containing everything from bottles and car parts to food containers and drug paraphernalia.
One day while out for a walk, a local resident in the Port of Call area reached a breaking point. Tired of constantly picking up trash and being exposed to unsightly piles of garbage she returned home and decided to meet with some local residents to discuss what could be done to improve the cleanliness of the neighborhood they all shared. Little did she know that this meeting was the beginning of what would turn out to be a project that would involve people from several residential communities on the street, collaboration with the GBPA and Sanitation Services and hours of sweat, labor, and love.
The green team at Port of Call was initially formed by one person going door to door and asking local residents if they were interested in helping improve the condition of the neighborhood. People talked face to face and discussions started to take place between neighbors, some who rarely knew each other, until the need for them to unify was established. Money was raised for trash bins, labor and trucks were donated by a local resident who had a construction crew on site, and people began to get organized. The initial clean up of the neighborhood resulted in over 400 bags of garbage being removed. This was a huge accomplishment, but ongoing clean ups and maintenance were foreseen to be a challenge.
Since the area of Bahama Terrace is not managed by the GBPA and the management company responsible for the area is in liquidation, the task of getting help from any type of government or agency seemed grim. This however did not dampen the fire of passion that the Port of Call team had ignited within themselves to win the war on waste.
The Keep Grand Bahama Clean Team of the GBPA was consulted and recognizing the Port of Call group’s predicament they assisted the team. The process to get help was not easy and the Port of Call team met with several people, wrote letters, and presented their concerns over and over. Eventually the GBPA negotiated with Sanitation Services to expand their trash pick-up route and they also helped the team with “no dumping” and “no littering” signs. There were several other actions that took place, but I think by now you get the idea.
Although the area still has some challenges, the residents feel that there is much less littering since the initiative began. People recognize the effort to keep the area clean and that seems to decrease the amount of new litter that is thrown on the roadsides and beaches. People are using the trash receptacles which illustrates that if garbage bins are available, some people WILL use them. We will not pretend that the Port of Call area is pristine, but amazing progress has been made. The shore birds at the local beach realize it too, as they no longer have to wade through trash in their natural habitat.
The success of this team is a direct result of people pulling together for the greater good and not giving up when things appear impossible to change. Keeping the island clean is the right thing to do; there really is no other choice that makes any sense. So next time you feel like complaining about trash in your neighborhood do something about it. Involve others, put together a team and keep your neighborhood clean.
One final thought. Habitual dumpers and trash throwing junkies are not unique to our island. We all know there are places right in our own country that are much worse and other places that have somehow gained the respect of their residents to keep their landscapes pristine. The sustainability and condition of our roadsides, beaches, and neighborhoods all depend on the choices each of us make. There is no doubt that some people just don’t “get it”. There are those who simply do not understand how important it is to keep our island clean for the community as a whole and for all the living things that call our island home. But for those of us who DO understand, it is our responsibility to educate those who can learn, forgive those who cannot see the light, and be role models for everyone around us.
Photo 1: Sign posted at public beach by Port of Call green team
Photo 2: Shore birds at local beach off Port of Call Drive enjoying a litter free habitat
Cheri Wood recently retired from Bank of America and has now permanently relocated to Grand Bahama. Her career of over 20 years in corporate America included serving in various capacities including training, marketing, sales, quality control, risk assessment, communications and operational management. While performing her regular job responsibilities, Cheri also served several years as the president of the Environmental Network for the Bank of America in the State of Rhode Island. Her experience in the environmental arena includes project management and coordination of volunteer events on local and national levels throughout the United States. Over the years she has worked closely with organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, the Rhode Island Rivers’ Council, and in 2010 Cheri was elected as secretary of the GB Branch of the Bahamas National Trust. Serving in her voluntary role with the Bahamas National Trust, Cheri is involved with increasing recycling on the island, promoting green practices with local businesses, educating the community on the importance of preserving the environment, and serving as a resource for those who wish to participate in environmentalopportunities on local and international levels.
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