Eleven-year-old Isaiah George from Wilbur S. Outten Christian Academy was among volunteers from eight schools and 16 civic organizations participating in the 37th International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, September 24.
“I feel good being out here helping to keep the environment clean,” Isaiah said.
“Just leaving garbage on our beaches is harmful to the environment and makes it look bad. And when we pollute the sea, that is harmful to the fish and other animals that live in the ocean.”
Dressed in a navy blue T-shirt with his school’s name inscribed on the front, Isaiah eagerly searched the shoreline for unwanted litter.
Isaiah, five of his schoolmates and two teachers were a part of the team, which included members of the Rotary Club of Grand Bahama, Sunset Pilot Club of Grand Bahama, Anchor Club of Lucaya and the Pi Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which were assigned to Taino Beach.
Prior to taking off on their hunt at 8 a.m., teams were outfitted with heavy-duty garbage bags, a scale to weigh the trash, a data sheet, gloves, and sanitizer.”
After dumping his first find, an empty plastic container, in the huge black trash bag, Isaiah said, “It is my responsibility to clean up to help the environment.”
Questioned how he felt giving up a Saturday morning to participate in the coastal cleaning — when most students are anxious to relax and enjoy the weekend — the bright-eyed youngster responded, “I didn’t mind doing it.”
International Coastal Cleanup Day was founded by Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara, both of whom worked at the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental agency that specializes in formulating resolutions and policies at federal and governmental levels.
The annual event, which began over 30 years ago, was started to raise awareness about the growing pollution on various beaches of the world.
Ten of the island’s popular beaches from West to East Grand Bahama were targeted this year, said Aulenna Robinson, the Ministry of Tourism’s sustainable tourism senior executive.
Asked what makes this event different from similar events, Robinson said, “The collection of data. Each team records information on the different type of trash they collect, and it is logged. From that, we can identify the kind and most common garbage left on our beaches, and work on programs to correct littering.”
Robinson found through statistics gathered that there were three common types of trash left on the white sandy beaches – plastic beverage bottles, being the first, followed by random dismembered pieces of plastic (crushed bottle tops, etc.) and beverage cans.
The local data is submitted to the Ocean Conservancy for a global tally, then added to a database.
Robinson noted that last year, students were not able to participate in the cleanup exercise due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We had combined teams from schools, civic organizations, including fraternities joining us this year,” she added.
“However, we were excited to include them this year.
“They not only make the event fun, but they also cause adults to realize the importance of keeping our beaches clean.”
Last year, 700 pounds of garbage were collected from beaches on the island, she revealed.
This year, an estimated 2,000 pounds of garbage was collected.
Robinson explained that in the Port area, Sanitation Services removes the trash from the designated sites and properly disposes of it at the landfill.
In the outlying settlements, contracted collectors do the same.
She noted that over the years of the cleanup campaign, residents have become more responsible.
“We still have a way to go, however, in getting every citizen to take responsibility and not litter,” Robinson said.