September 21st marked the 28th anniversary of International Costal Cleanup Day—a day spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy where groups from across the world are empowered to take action in their local communities to assist cleaning their local beaches, while at the same time tallying debris in order to contribute to a world wide data set that will determine the current major pollutants in marine ecosystems. Last year more than 2,500 individual cleanup/ tally efforts occurred on this day.
Though Eleuthera has never before taken part in this event, sixty-four people gathered at Northside Beach last Saturday to be the third island to represents the Bahamas in International Costal Cleanup Day. Students from DCMS joined students from the Island School, and a few local families to clean up the beach and catalog debris. The event was organized by DCMS’s Eco-Club, in conjunction with a plastics survey run by Kristal Ambrose from CEI.
In the end, it was clear that the major pollutant on Northside Beach was plastics. Plastics were more than seven-hundred times as prevalent as other debris, with styrofoam pieces/parts coming in second. On just ¼ mile of beach, 15 trash bags were filled with debris.
Last year, through the green school recertification process, students from DCMS identified single use plastic elimination as a necessary step in order to ensure sustainable practices within the school. Though styrofoam has been “illegal” at the school for years, with violators paying an “Earth Destruction Fee”, the prevalence of single-use plastics has been harder to combat. The elimination plan rolled out this month with a ban on single-use drink bottles, and will continue next quarter with the elimination of single-use plastic snack wrappers.
DCMS’s Eco-Club would like to thank all who participated in this event, which highlighted the degree to which plastics pollution is a problem on the island, as well as anyone who participates in similar events in the future. By taking part in International Costal Cleanup Day, students and families took the step to clean up their own community while at the same time working with others from around the world to make positive change.
Data from this event gives credibility to the need that the Eco-Club slogan proudly states, “Plastics Free by 2014″.