Chloe Tuinman commenced a clean-up initiative of the roadside in South Ocean to fulfill her requirement for her Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) Silver Award. A few weeks in, she discovered a passion, and hasn’t missed a week of cleanup, since.
Chloe, a 10th-grade student at Lyford Cay International School (LCIS), has completed 19 of the 24 weeks she needs to fulfill her service requirements. And, in the process, said she has learnt that it does not matter who litters, it is everyone’s moral responsibility to be the bigger person and take time to do something good for the community.
“Seeing as this is my GGYA silver initiative, [and] I have always been passionate about the environment, I thought this was a great opportunity to do something that would impact the environment positively,” said Chloe.
“Ever since I moved here from England, I have noticed that there is a litter problem in some areas and, we, as humans, become blind to the fact that it is even there. Seeing as The Bahamas is such a beautiful country, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do something like this. Interestingly, I have noticed over time that in the same places where I have cleaned up, more butterflies and wildlife have shown up. That really showed me that it has shown a positive outcome already.”
People engaging in clean-up initiatives she said are showing their love and respect for their country.
“It is vital to protect and preserve our natural environment. Our future depends on it, not only for this country but for the entire world. I mean, there is more talk, globally, than ever about the environment, such as the Glasgow conferences, and I feel as though people are finally taking some action.”
Over the course of her cleanups, Chloe has removed plastic as well as glass bottles, cups, bags, food containers, cardboard boxes, masks, milk cartons, cans – as well as things she terms “unusual” like shoes, bags, credit cards – car windshields, and part of the road.
“It would take a while to name all the things I have found because there are so many. Funnily enough, I have also had many encounters with animals and bugs –which have made me terrified – like snakes, spiders, and all types of flying insects.”
She usually fills between four to five bags (the amount that can fit in their car) every weekend. She carts it all off to her house to put in their rubbish bin for proper disposal.
“We do have to squish it down usually though, so it all fits,” she said.
It is her hope that people will start taking responsibility for the disposal of their own rubbish.
“Not only that, I feel as though we all have a responsibility to clean up the rubbish we see even if we did not put it there. It is more likely the people who put it there that will not have the desire to clean it up. I think that if everyone could make a good habit of cleaning, for 20 to 30 minutes every week, month or whenever they have time, that would add up to a massive difference in the long run.”
The passionate environmentalist said she will opt to choose marine science as one of her course selections as she believes The Bahamas is the perfect place to study marine science with its beautiful ocean and marine life.
Chloe has been a member of the ELC helpers, the Marine Science elective, Eco-club where she was mostly in the Cans for Kids department. She was also one of the heads of BAARK MCM [Make a Change Mondays] – a school-wide service program group.
“I am definitely super passionate about the environment and animals, so I have enjoyed all of those clubs very much.”
She is also a fan of GGYA, which LCIS makes mandatory for all students beginning at ninth grade.
“It is always super fun and informative in the respect that we as students learn good principles such as cooking, making tents, working as a team, living in the natural environment for a change, and more. Not to mention, it is a challenge physically on the trips, which we learn to love in the process. For the bronze, I enjoyed biking a lot even though we could not travel to another island, due to COVID. This year, I believe that kayaking will be an amazing and beautiful journey. It is truly a privilege to be at a school where I get to participate in programs like this.”
Chloe said she enjoys putting herself out of her comfort zone and finding an interesting skill, physical recreation, and service to do. She also enjoys being able to reflect on them.
“This process has allowed me to do these activities with a purpose and goal which teaches me many life lessons along the way,” she said. “As a person, I will always be interested in the conservation of our environment and everything in it. However, it is one thing to talk about it but another to actually take action.”
At school, Chloe is writing a persuasive speech, and is using it as an opportunity to express her thoughts on the matter of litter in The Bahamas. She is excited to be able to present her summative to her peers.
Academically, Chloe stays on top of her work, and said she is good at managing her time. Her strengths, she said, are in the subjects of English and humanities as she enjoys them most.
She still has time to determine what she wants to do post-secondary, and said, right now, she has an interest in journalism, mass media and communication.