October 2, 2014
Jamaican youths are recognizing the importance of proper garbage disposal as evident in the support of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICCD) activity in Hellshire Bay, St. Catherine. .
The Agency is reporting that of the 763 volunteers that supported the event, the majority of them were young people.
The exercise, which was hosted in collaboration with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), saw the volunteers collecting almost 1,508.65 kilogramms (4,500 pounds) of solid waste including 528.98 kilogramms(1,166 pounds) of recyclables from the Hellshire Bay coastline, which lies within the Portland Bight Protected Area.
While many of the volunteers hailed from community based service clubs and companies, there was also a strong contingent of primary and secondary school students.
Throughout the day, students as young as seven years old could be seen meticulously sifting through, recording and collecting solid waste from the beach with the assistance of their older peers, teachers and parents.
Several secondary school students also saw the clean-up as not only a way to help the environment but to complete their school's voluntary service hours.
Site Captain for the Hellshire Bay beach clean-up, Sean Green, Coordinator, the Ecosystems Management Branch at NEPA said the highlight of the day's activities was educating youngsters about the negative impact of marine litter on the environment.
"The children were especially excited about lending a hand to clean up the beach and were very receptive as the Agency spoke to them about how marine litter can negatively affect sea turtles, fish and other marine life."
Mr. Green adds that since the main cause of marine litter is improper garbage disposal inland, participants were challenged to be more responsible with their waste disposal practices.
The day's activities had a lasting impact on Ashanti Nelson - sixth grade student at Holy Rosary Primary - who has committed to always use garbage bins to dispose of her waste and to encourage those around her not to litter.
"We need to unite as a nation and take care of our coastal areas. We need our beaches for recreation, for our marine life and for tourism, so it's important for us to keep our beaches clean," he said.
NEPA is reminding members of the public that wherever possible, they should separate out all items that are recyclable in their garbage; reduce the amount of waste generated and always punch holes in cans before disposing in the bin to reduce chances of mosquitoes breeding sites.
Jamaica was one of more than 100 countries that celebrated ICCD, which is coordinated internationally by the Ocean Conservancy. The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is the National Coordinator for ICCD in Jamaica. This year over 130 clean-up sites were registered island-wide.