IDB Barbados Country Office Family & Friends Clean Up Barbados Team. Photo Author Lisa S. Howard
The once controversial refrain “Da Beach Is Mine” has become the unofficial Barbadian anthem about the ownership of our beaches — ownership accompanied by rights and responsibilities.
In September, The Greening Committee from the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Barbados Country Office made significant strides towards living up to our social responsibility when we took on the task of cleaning up Long Beach, in the Southern parish of Christ Church.
The Greening Committee’s mission is to provide leadership on environmental matters, as well as to promote greening initiatives for IDB employees within the community. Participation in this year’s Clean Up Barbados effort was our contribution towards assisting in the maintenance of the biodiversity of the area, to solid waste management and education. Greening Committee member and site supervisor Wayne Elliot made sure we were successful.
Clean Up Barbados is an annual call-to-action from local NGO, The Future Centre Trust for businesses, schools and community organizations. The event was first launched in 2009 and is affiliated with Clean Up The World, which was started 22 years ago in Australia with support from the United Nations Environmental Program. The event takes place on the third weekend of September and is intended to increase public awareness and reduce the amount of littering and dumping around the world.
This year the theme that brought us, our friends and families to Long Beach (including four children for whom there were a number of teachable moments), was: Our Place, Our Planet, Our Responsibility. Long Beach merited our attention because of its popularity as a recreation spot, as well as its national significance as a turtle-nesting beach and a natural habitat for birds.
Our Place, Our Planet
White sandy beaches, kissed by crystal clear turquoise waters, bathed in the sunshine and strewn with bottles and empty wrappers! Surely not a dream any Barbadian or tourist has ever imagined. To prevent the nightmare of a litter-strewn beach from becoming a reality, at 6:30am our local country office team — joined quite poetically and ably by IDB’s Water & Sanitation Division Chief and his son who also chipped in — descended on the beach to see how much work we could do.
According to the recent United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Global Waste Management Outlook, 80% of coastal and marine litter in Barbados comes from recreation activities. The plastic bottles, glass bottles and occasional metal cans we bagged to be recycled seemed proof of that. Other non-recyclables we tossed into black garbage bags for disposal ranged from empty rice packaging to amorphous bits of rubber washed up from the sea, a testament to what the Global Waste Management Outlook report cites as the 20% of coastal and marine litter, which comes from ocean activities.
The discarded waste doesn’t only mar an idyllic vista but also has a biological impact since bulky items can prevent hatchling turtles from making it from the shore to the ocean. Some of the items like the pallets and old pieces of wood too bulky to be bagged were piled up next to our collection point for removal. Our efforts yielded more than trash, though, as one of our team members found two pieces of 2″ X 4″ wood which he took with him to be re-purposed!
At the end of it all, the team members all agreed that it felt good not just consulting about waste management but actually rolling up our sleeves and doing something about it. We hope that our actions had a demonstrative effect to the society as a whole that would help prevent the beaches from being polluted in the future and in so doing made some progress towards advancing the goals of sanitation by protecting the planet life below and above the water.
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