SPL Foundation removes 430lbs of garbage from MoBay's beachesThursday, September 23, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James -In observation of this year's International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day, the youth-led Street People Liberation (SPL) Foundation's Eco Initiative embarked on a two-day operation to rid Montego Bay beaches of plastic waste.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer West, executive director and founder of SPL, Ashli-Ann Broughton-Jackson, said though ICC was officially observed last Saturday, her foundation decided to commence their beach clean-up activities a week in advance to expand their reach.
She shared that along with her team of 10 volunteers, they removed 430 pounds of waste from the shorelines and seabed in the resort city during the two-day activity.
“We hosted a beach clean-up activity [on September 11] with 10 volunteers at the Old Hospital Park Beach, and we collected 18 bags weighing approximately 300 pounds of plastic waste,” she said.
“Then on September 18, we had the underwater clean-up and what we did was, we entered from the Doctor's Cave Beach and went [over] to Buccaneer Beach [where] we collected four large bags of plastic waste [weighing] approximately 130 pounds within the seabed in that area. It was a lot of waste,” the 24-year-old Broughton-Jackson added.
She shared that the 10 volunteers for the foundation's ICC activities were like-minded individuals simply wanting to remove the waste from the beaches in their hometown.
“We had volunteers as young as 14-year-old and some in their 40s. There is no specific age group, we just said let us just come out and do this initiative,” she told the Observer West.
While the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many of our public beaches out of operation, the executive director pointed out that during the foundation's ICC activities, there was a noticeable increase in the number of waste materials found in the ocean, compared to the last two years.
Plastic bottles, bags and Styrofoam boxes topped the list of waste materials retrieved during the two-day clean-up, Broughton-Jackson stated. This she attributes to the continued improper disposal of domestic waste.
“We have seen a small increase, and this is largely a combination of microfiber, plastic bags and plastic cups coming into our ocean. This is caused simply by us not disposing of our plastic waste correctly, so what happens is that the trash finds its way into the ocean...and settles on the seabed. It can [also] be a combination of the improper disposal of waste on land, as well as just throwing the waste into the ocean intentionally,” she stated.
The domestic waste retrieved were recycled and disposed of correctly after the two-day activity, she told the Observer West.
Broughton-Jackson, a third-year logistics and supply chain management student at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), shared that the SPL's Eco Initiative was established in 2019 in a bid to encourage more environmentally-friendly activities based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“The eco-initiative is the heart and soul of our foundation. Our main mission is to raise awareness on climate change and plastic pollution, this was inspired by [two of] the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — climate action as well as life below water. So, that is the reason we said let us just become more environmentally-friendly and aware of what is really going on,” Broughton-Jackson explained.
She further noted that while the SPL Foundation hosts regular beach clean-ups, she is hoping that more Jamaicans recognise a need for this type of initiative across the island as we face a major water pollution problem.
“If we start with just one beach and 10 volunteers, we hope that other individuals across Jamaica will jump on board in keeping our beaches clean by recycling and reducing our plastic consumption,” she said.
“Approximately 70 per cent of the earth's oxygen is provided by the ocean, so if we as citizens don't come together and do initiatives like this, then ultimately, the main source of life which is oxygen is going to be depleted, so we are trying to save humanity as well, as we are trying to save the planet.”
The executive director is urging all Jamaicans to properly dispose of their waste to ensure that they do not end up on the country's shorelines or in the ocean.
“Climate change begins with us and most of the pollution is caused by human contact,” Broughton-Jackson stressed.
With their ICC activities completed, the executive director is now looking forward to SPL's next underwater clean-up in October. One lesson she has learned since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, she said, is to do more community-based initiatives.
“The pandemic has really taught us to appreciate life more by doing more community initiatives and doing good is an ongoing mission for us, pandemic or no pandemic,” she stressed.
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