How did you celebrate the International Coastal Clean-Up Day?
Every year, volunteers all over the world gather along the coasts every third Saturday of September to clean-up the water bodies. This event is orchestrated by Ocean Conservancy. They started it along the Texas coast in 1986, and from the initial 12 sites, there are now more than 6,000 sites in more than 100 countries helping out.
The Philippines celebrated the day with the theme “Bayanihan para sa Malinis na Katubigan at Karagatan” (trans. Unity for Cleaner Waters and Seas). Volunteers who live near Manila, the country’s capital, gathered early in the morning to help clean Manila Bay. Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada was there too, led the clean-up by shoveling garbage as well.
photo credit: Des Lleno, Manila Ocean Park
Another identified major clean-up site was the Las-Piñas – Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA). My friends and former colleagues were there, along with my former bosses.
How could this be possible? Disturbing amount of garbage embracing the coast.
Young environmentalists. Great job!
Dead-serious against garbage.
The clean-up did not only happen in Luzon. It was a simultaneous volunteer gathering all over the country. My friend, Dr. Jihan Hashim Adil, did a clean-up in Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga (with the Society of Environmental Engineers of the Philippines) and has this to say, “In our trash collection activity, we observed that aside from PET bottles and other food packaging materials (principally plastics), most of the wastes thrown by beach visitors include lighters, styros, and slippers/shoes.”
I also echo her call for all tourists in the country (local and otherwise) to be required to bring a small bag so they could pick up the trash they generate while on any island/s. We visit a certain locale to enjoy its beauty and not to destroy it, and as tourists, we should all be ‘human’ enough to know that this means being responsible for our own garbage as well. The Philippines is not your dumping ground.
Photo credit: Jihan Hashim Adil (also above photo)
As for us here, my husband and I volunteered at the Herons Head Park in San Francisco.
Together, we were able to pick-up 37 plastic pieces, 30 cigarette butts, 18 bottle caps, 17 foam pieces, and 16 tiny glass pieces (top 5 trash on our data). The most unusual piece of garbage we got was a long stretch of an electrical wire.
Recording our trash collection.
This is definitely not a lot compared to what they have back home, especially in LPPCHEA, which should serve as a wake-up call.
Clearly, there is a lot to be done as far as solid waste management in the Philippines is concerned. At the end of the day, data is collected, not to herald which country gets the most garbage, but to show the world that this is what is happening. The information Ocean Conservancy gathers help legislators and policy makers all over the world to draft and prepare programs that would eventually put an end to our garbage problem. Sadly, we are clearly not disciplined enough. It is embarrassing, and obviously, solid waste management MUST be seriously implemented.
We have the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) in the Philippines, and its implementing rules and regulations have been in place for over a decade now. Let us be reminded that it is not the sole responsibility of the government to pick up everyone’s trash.
Mga kabayan, tulungan naman natin ang gobyerno at ang bayan natin na maging malinis sa Pilipinas. Basura mo, linisin mo. Para din sa atin ito. (Friends, wherever we are in the world, let us all be responsible enough to manage our own trash. This is for our own good.)
So, how did you celebrate the Coastal Clean Up Day? Tell us and help inspire others as well.
* LPPCHEA photo credit: Carl Elpa, EMB-DENR