May 12, 2022
“You may not feel as if you are making a dent, but you are definitely making a difference.” These were the words of encouragement offered to some of the nearly 200 young Bahamians and educators who spent Saturday morning attempting to clean up mountains of garbage dumped along an unpaved side road off Carmichael Road.
The effort was coordinated by Blue Lagoon Island’s Project B.E.A.C.H in conjunction with local corporate partners Caribbean Bottling and Bahamas Waste as well as the Ocean Conservancy and #TeamSeas, a global project conceived by YouTubers Mark Rober and Mr. Beast. The goal of the initiative is to raise $30 million dollars to help get 30 million pounds of plastic and trash out of the oceans and marine areas.
A number of youth community organizations, including Governor General’s Youth Awards, Boys Brigade, Visionaries Toastmasters Club and the Girls Auxiliary of St Barnabas Anglican Church showed up early to pick up garbage. The amount of garbage that had been dumped just a few hundred feet off a major thoroughfare was something both young and older participants found shocking and discouraging.
“Normally we head to beaches to do cleanups, however on this island, even in the center, we are close to the ocean and garbage can impact our marine environment. We have been organizing cleanups throughout the country for more than 20 years and this particular clean up site was one of worst any of us has seen,” said Blue Lagoon Island Education Supervisor Te-Shalla Clarke.
Bags of household garbage, cases of empty beer bottles, mountains of used tires and every imaginable type of used appliance had been dumped in the area. The night before, someone had set fire to a pile of debris and while it was under control by morning, there were still flames and smoke.
For more than three hours, the students, teachers and organization leaders picked up as much garbage as they could. Two large dumpsters and a smaller one attached to a dump truck were filled to the brim and carried away. It is estimated that nearly 9 1/2 tons of trash was removed from the site, and yet despite the effort, mountains of garbage remained.
Nearly 100 young Governors General Youth Awards members helped with the cleanup. Jacquetta Maycock, National Director for the GGYA found herself constantly encouraging her members that what they were doing was indeed worth the effort and found that most of them were surprised to learn what was hiding just off the main road.
“They are exhausted. They are shocked. It is a culture shock for them particularly if you are accustomed to taking the straight road to school or to home or to work all you see is what is being decorated or covered up. You don’t see the reality that there are people out there who feel that as regularly as we come out here and do this work and try to make a difference, there are those persons who regularly come out and make our environment look this way,” she explained.
Also on hand to help with the cleanup were physical education teachers representing the New Providence Public Primary Schools Sports Association. They came to help out, bring some students along and also be better positioned to take the message back into the classroom. Some of the schools represented included Garvin Tynes Primary, Claridge Primary, Stephen Dillet Primary, Woodcock Primary and Carleton Francis Primary.
“It’s important to get the young kids out here to see this and to participate because if we establish from the foundation from their youth then it will be something that they carry on through their lives. We need to train our children now just to take advantage of the beauty that we have in the Bahamas,” said Clara Storr, Education Officer for Physical Education at the Ministry of Education, adding “We have too much beauty in the Bahamas to continue to abuse it in this way.”
Latoya Sturup, a teacher at Claridge Primary and member of the New Providence Public Primary Schools Sports Association said the cleanup effort was certainly an eye opener for most of the students she brought out.
“The kids are a bit overwhelmed - they’re like ‘oh we didn’t know that all this garbage would be out here’ and I said ‘Yes, so now we know we must be mindful where we dispose our garbage,’” she said.
One of the young Bahamians who chose to spend his Saturday morning cleaning up other people’s mess was Ernesto Williams, member of Visionaries and Luminaries Toastmasters Clubs. He spent most of his time in the same spot, as he found that the more trash he removed, the more he found underneath.
“We’re not only damaging the environment, but it speaks to us as a people. We need to be focusing more on ensuring that we all do our part with every single piece of garbage going in the trash. At the same time we need to respect our environment enough and respect ourselves enough to not continue to damage Mother Earth like this,” he said.
Bursall Cox, a resident who lives in the area said he often challenges people who come to dump their personal trash in his neighborhood and said that he and others who live nearby do their best to prevent the dumping from coming any closer to their homes. He was happy that the group had come out to help put a dent in the illicit dumping, but was concerned that cleanups simply aren’t enough.
“we need to start having a fine for people dumping any and everywhere and we need to enforce it seriously. Even if you guys come and make the effort to clean it up, if we don’t enforce not dumping in here, they’re going to end up right in the back here dumping again,” he said. Unfortunately, he was right. Just a few hours after the group had completed their clean up, someone else had already been there to dump more trash.
Dolphin Encounters, located on idyllic, Blue Lagoon Island, Bahamas, offers visitors from around the world a unique opportunity to interact with and learn about marine animals in their all-natural habitat. Home to native Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, native Southern stingrays and Bahamian nurse sharks, this leading attraction continues to set the standard for marine animal interactive programs in the world. Blue Lagoon Island is American Humane certified and is a Travelife Partner. Blue Lagoon Island also became the first Bahamian business to successfully obtain the Safe Travels accreditation for its COVID-19 safety protocols. Owned and operated by a local family, Blue Lagoon Island is a private island experience that provides guests with authentic, eco-friendly, sustainable, Bahamian experiences through their educational animal programs, nature walking tours, Segway safaris, fun-filled family beach day and adults-only VIP beach day.
Blue Lagoon Island is Authentically Bahamian, Sustainable at Heart. To learn more about Blue Lagoon Island visit www.DolphinEncounters.com.