A student-led clean-up of Safe Haven saw 65 volunteers, who were mostly children, bag more than 900 pounds of trash last Saturday. The young people were volunteering with Protect Our Future, which had also teamed up with Plastic Free Cayman and Ocean Heroes Bootcamp.
Grade 12 students Genene Magnan and Isabela Watler were the main coordinators of the event, joined by grade 10 students, Lili Aleria, Demae Lee, Lauren Colaiacovo and Angelina Sargsayan, who ran an education booth displaying the dangers of plastic pollution, and advised on alternatives to plastic consumer goods. Each volunteering family was paired with a student from Protect Our Future in order to continue the education process throughout the event and to help younger students with the clean up.
Ms Watler said she was excited to see so many younger children involved with the beach clean-up.
“This event was designed to teach little kids about plastic pollution,” she explained. “Our new POF members did a great job teaching the kids and buddying with them throughout the clean-up. We are very hopeful that these collaborations will continue into the future."
Organisers advised that half of the trash was marine debris that had washed up on shores, including hundreds of plastic bottles, bottle caps, fishing line and styrofoam pieces, with the remaining trash comprising of local litter dumped by the public. The latter was made up of all manner of refuse, including hundreds of beer bottles and cans, two refrigerators, a toilet, a generator, many dirty diapers and thousands of cigarette butts.
“This does highlight a dark side of our local litter problem,” the students said, adding it was a clear indication that anti-litter laws were not being enforced.
Ms Magnan said the Protect Our Future beach clean-up was their most successful 100% youth-led beach clean-up to date, with more than 105 bags collected by volunteers of ages ranging from four to over 60.
“The waste collected highlights the local litter problem on island, and, although discouraging, is a reminder that there is still the need for public education on the topic of litter,” she said.
The group said that they hoped Cayman’s new leaders would seriously consider a ban on specific plastic items, a stricter enforcement of anti-litter law, and instituting a recycling and composting plan of action. If done properly, each of these initiatives could create local jobs for our community while improving our environment, they said. They also encouraged the community to join the Chamber of Commerce's Annual Earth Day clean-up https://www.caymanchamber.ky/events-training/signature-events/earth-day-cleanup/