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Annual Coastal Cleanup slowly denting poor waste disposal

A group removing garbage from the Georgetown Seawall on Saturday- International Coastal Cleanup Day

Although the International Coastal Cleanup exercise continues to rake in tons of garbage along Guyana’s shoreline each year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that the activity is slowly winning hearts and minds.

Hundreds of persons, including students and adults, participated in the ICC exercise at the Georgetown seawall on Saturday where they removed hundreds of jumbo garbage bags full of waste. Also taken away from the seawall area were hundreds of glass bottles and a leaking chemical laden metal object.

The theme of this year’s exercise is “Fighting for trash free seas”.

EPA’s Director of Education, Sharifa Razack said the types of waste retrieved were recorded for analysis and eventual transmission to the United States-headquartered Ocean Conservancy. She said trends over the years show that that mostly plastics and plastic bottles, acid objects and old batteries are found along the coast. Marine turtles are among marine species that are worst affected by plastics. “It causes them to suffocate because they mistake it for jellyfish due to the transparency of the plastic- basically choking and strangulation,” she told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com). ravi elliot

Asked what sense the annual coastal cleanups make because every year huge volumes of garbage are collected, Razack took comfort in the small achievements being made in educating people. “We have to keep doing these things. If we impact on five people or 20 people, that’s something so we are not so worried that it is not affecting everybody. We are hoping that would be the case,” she said.

The EPA official was optimistic that youths, who participated in the cleanup, would spread the word about the importance of proper waste disposal. She pointed out that all the waste found on the coast is deposited directly there but discarded inland and floats through drains, trenches and canals into the sea and eventually washes up on the shore.

thea tobinSt. Joseph’s High School environmental activist, Thea Tobin told DemWaves hoped her participation in the clean-up would motivate other youths to desist from poor waste disposal because it also affects them. She chided those who believe that it is the Mayor and City Council’s job to clean the city. “It’s the level of ignorance that everybody thinks that they are in charge and not noticing that in the whole that it’s affecting them also because prior we had floods and they are not realising that it is affecting them as a whole and it is they who are putting the garbage there,” said Tobin who is President of her school’s Interact Club.

Ravi Elliot of Queen’s College said the lesson he learned from the coastal cleanup is that environmental degradation was affecting Guyana. “We should do our best to clean it up because of global warming and depletion of the ozone layer. The best we can do is try to clean this place up,” he said. Elliot believed that most litter bugs are youths because most of the litter retrieved from the Georgetown seawall area included straws, plastic bottles and glass bottles.

Schedule of activities for International Coastal Cleanup 2013

 Region

Venue

Date

6

Rose Hall beach

September 15

4

Seawall bandstand

September 21

10

Mackenzie and Wismar  Markets

September 28

3

Uitvlugt Seawall 

September 29

From forgotten picnic utensils to tampon applicators, every piece of trash has the chance of becoming marine coastal cleanup2013qcdebris and they have already. Indeed, not all of the marine debris found locally on our shores may have originated from us here in Guyana. Marine debris also drifts onto our shores from other countries where improper disposal may also be a public health issue. Marine debris is therefore everybody’s business. It is for this reason that Guyana joins 88 other countries in celebrating International Coastal Cleanup day.

It is a day when the world shouts out the need for environmental sustainability and effective solid waste management. Although we should keep, every part of our environment clean; the main aim of the activity is to provide data on the types and sources of debris found on the coast. This data could be used for academic research as well as by policy makers. Additionally, the data is used to advocate for corporate social and environmental responsibility from our business sector.

coastal cleanup2013epaIn Guyana, the initial cleanup was held in Georgetown, in September, 2005. Since then it has experienced growth and expanded to other Regions over the years. Worldwide, more than 305, 000 people removed over 7.7 million pounds of debris from more than 11,000 miles of shoreline. The Environmental Protection Agency has collaborated with other partners over the years to mobilize more than 200 volunteers, annually not only to clean up our coastlines but also to encourage behavioural change through active participation.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in collaboration with Pick it up Guyana, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, have mobilized hundreds of volunteers from schools, NGOs, Private Sector and Government Organisations to pledge their allegiance to the cause of environmental cleanliness by participating in cleanup activities in various regions across Guyana. This activity also aims to sensitize persons on the importance of a clean and healthy environment to our sustenance.