2019 marks 30 years since Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara united their efforts to rid the ocean of trash, giving birth to Ocean Conservancy’s first clean-up. This event has evolved into what is now known as International Coastal Clean-up (ICC), where volunteers in over 100 countries converge each year with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline. The national body responsible for the coordination of Guyana’s Coastal Clean-up is the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, Guyana Chapter (CYEN) with support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Environment. It is a day set aside to encourage individuals to help reduce the challenges the oceans face, by going out to clean the beaches. In the month of September, tens of thousands volunteers around the globe will unite their efforts to create public awareness on inappropriate waste management practices under the theme “Microplastics”.
Not just about cleaning…
The International Coastal Clean-up day is not about just cleaning the coastline, the main aim is to collect and document garbage from coastlines. Data from the annual Coastal Clean-ups pointed out that single-use plastic pollution has been a major local and global issue. Plastic beverage bottles, bottle caps, cups and plates remain the top items found by the coastal volunteers. Other common items found includes plastic straws and stirrers, beverage cans and grocery bags.
Why should we care?
Marine litter has been a major problem locally and globally. Marine litter is an environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problem. Marine litter can kill or maim unsuspecting wildlife. Entanglement and ingestion are the primary forms of direct damage to wildlife caused by marine litter. Other threats to wildlife and habitats from marine litter include: smothering of the seabed and disturbance of benthic communities by mechanical scouring. Pieces of marine litter can also transport invasive species between oceans. Medical and sanitary wastes constitute a health hazard and can seriously injure people. Every year, marine litter results in tremendous economic costs and losses to individuals and communities around the world. It can spoil, foul and destroy the beauty of the ocean and the coastal zone.
What can we do to help?
* Be responsible for the waste you generate— dispose of your garbage properly.
* Practice reducing, reusing and recycling.
* Choose reusable items over disposal ones.
* Talk to your family and friends about the importance of proper waste management.
* Take part in the annual International Coastal Clean-up.
You can join the national clean-up efforts or coordinate one in your area.
The first leg of the clean-up will be on September 21 & 22 at the Kingston Seawall which we will see a number of volunteers from both government and NGOs, along with members of civil society, religious groups, schools etc, all working toward the same aim, a cleaner ocean for all. The next leg will be in the Berbice area on September 28 where volunteers will gather at the No 63. Both events commence at 06:00h. All cleaning supplies will be provided.
So if you are interested or know anyone or group that would like to participate, you all are welcome to join in these clean-ups.
Let’s all make an effort to tell others of how important it is to dispose of trash so that it never ends up in our oceans!
You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected] or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.