|International Coastal Clean-up: One more environmental win for Grand Bahama|
|Wednesday, 22 September 2010 13:33|
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean Up Day. On Saturday, September 25, Grand Bahama will join forces with the rest of the globe to show support for this significant event. Hundreds of Grand Bahamian’s will join together on this important day to participate in cleaning our island’s beaches from Mclean’s Town to West End. I for one am proud to live in a place where our own Ministry of Tourism understands the significance of this event and undertakes the massive task of organizing and enlisting an army of environmental soldiers to attack to debris on our island’s coastline.
This initiative is not just about picking up trash. The coordination and documentation that goes into this effort requires massive amounts of teamwork in the community, sponsorships, and the sweat of hundreds of volunteers who give their time and labor for one common goal. It is about people coming together - teachers, school children, organizations, scuba divers, community leaders, and government working together to improve the health and appearance of our shorelines and our marine eco-systems.
Last year’s event heralded outstanding results. On one single day over 4800 pounds of documented debris was removed from Grand Bahama’s shores. These results might appear to be a win for the island, but the real story is why there was over 2 tons of trash to pick up in the first place. Granted, a large amount of debris washes on shore from our seas, but we can logically reason that fast food containers and local calling cards are not being thrown off of cruise ships. Those items are generated right here and being tossed on our shores as if our island was a giant garbage can.
If you are reading this article than I would assume you are probably someone who practices behaviors that contribute to a trash-free island solution, not one of those who adds more unsightly and harmful waste to our environment. If this is the case, then you clearly understand that you have a personal and moral responsibility to educate those who seem to be blind to the importance of caring for our environment. Have conversations, carry a bag when you take a walk, pick up what others may have been too ignorant to dispose of properly. You will be amazed at the kind of dialogue that you may encounter with someone and the impact your actions may have. I give you a real example from personal experience.
One day I took a leisurely walk in my neighborhood. As usual I had a trash bag on hand and was picking up roadside debris. A child approached on his bicycle and asked me what I was doing. When I explained, he asked me why I would pick up trash that someone else had thrown away. I simply explained that I felt it was the right thing to do and we had a brief conversation about the importance of caring for the environment. The child then got off of his bicycle and asked if he could help me. I was astonished. Could it be that no one ever explained to this child the importance of keeping our environment clean? In any case it didn’t matter, because he now knows. And most importantly, he may pass on the information to others. Kind of the “pay it forward” approach.
We are very lucky to live in a place that recognizes the need to be a part of a global environmental sustainability effort such as the International Coastal Clean Up. So when you hear about those who are participating in the event this upcoming Saturday, applaud them. The last thing this island needs is more people complaining about what is not being done. What we need to do is highlight what IS being done and swing the environmental violators over to the environmental sustainer’s side of the equation. On Grand Bahama, the International Coastal Clean Up event gets stronger every year. Hopefully with continued participation a day will come when we no longer need to set aside a day to clean our shorelines, for they will already be clean from ongoing efforts of the responsible people who live here.
So here’s your new green challenge: Ask yourself what you are doing to keep our island clean, beautiful and healthy. If your mind goes blank, you may want to start recycling, reusing, or reducing your waste output. Or at the very least the next time you take a relaxing stroll down one of our island’s gorgeous beaches and you see a piece of trash, PICK IT UP.
Photos 1-2: Barbary Beach clean up.
Photo 3: Williamstown beach 2010.
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 environmental opportunities on local and international levels.
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