Clean the beach, clean your soul!
What better way to end the year than by teaming up with a group of local enthousiasts to give back to mother nature. On December 30th, 2013 Bay Islands College of Diving teamed up with the Utila Iguana Research and Breeding Station to give the beautiful little Airport beach a much deserved make-over.
Utila's newly elected mayor, Troy Bodden, reacted swiftly to the Facebook call to action to provide a truck and driver for the day to bring about 25 volounteers to the north-east side of our beautiful island.
Just past the end of the runway of the local airport of Utila, lays a stunning strip of beach, right in the path of the infamous Caribbean Trade Winds. It is this unfortunate location that causes the beach to be continuously overrun by waste products -mainly plastic and styrofoam- that wash up from anywhere in the Caribbean sea.
Our enthousiastic local driver picked us up at Bay Islands College of Diving at 8am sharp, complete with pick-up truck, rakes, shovels and wheel barrow, donated by one of the expats in the neighbourhood. Since not all road on Utila are paved, the ride to the desolate beach was bumpy and adventurous, to the amusement of our volounteers.
It didn't take very long to get an accurate breakdown of the most comonly washed up products on the beach:
- Enemy number one (by a landslide) Bottlecaps!
- Bits and pieces of styrofoam
- Plastic utensils
- Syringes (!)
It took our team of 25 volounteers about 3 hours to get most of the garbage in 11 gigantic garbage bags, ready for recycling, leaving a wonderful beach the way it should be.
Some valuable lessons learned:
- As a new year's resolution, Bay Islands College of Diving will be offering their students refillable sports water bottles made from BPA free recycled and recyclable plastic. Let's discourage the use of anyting with plastic bottle caps.
- It's not always easy to have a say in what a manufacturer wraps certein products in but even if you do receive something packed in styrofoam, dispose of it properly!
- When you're doing your part and organizing a cleanup of any kind, be mindful of what you are picking up and provide some designated biohazard waste bags. Especially in developing countries, medical products can still end up anywhere.
- Human beings aren't the only ones affected by our wasteful and careless behaviour. The little Hermit Crab (in the picture above) found no other option on this beach than to live in a... plastic bottle cap.. (Photo courtesy of Maja Zonjic)
We would like to thank everyone who participated today to make our beautiful piece of paradise a little bit healthier. In particular all of our Divemasters in training, the volounteers at the Iguana Research and Breeding Station and the filmcrew of 'Postcards From Utila' who made this great time lapse video: