Garbage from clean-up campaign to be analyzed
Stabroek News
September 23, 2002

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Nearly 300 persons cleaned up a section of the East Coast seawall on Saturday as Guyana joined in Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Clean-up 2002.

Affirming their concern for the marine environment, volunteers from the public and at least sixteen NGO's, including Lifeline Counselling, Youth Challenge Guyana, the Girl Guides Association of Guyana, the Rotaract Club of Georgetown, and the National Parks Commission, hauled away loads of manufactured debris during the two-and-a-half hour-long campaign.

Bagged and ready to go: Participants in Saturday's coastal clean-up stand behind the bags of garbage they collected from the section of seawall between Le Meridien Pegasus and Vlissengen road. (Photo by Clairmonte Marcus)

Helped by the national lead agency Guybernet as well as Iwokrama and to a lesser extent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Conservation International Guyana (CIG), the clean-up took place along the seawall between Le Meridien Pegasus and Vlissengen road. There was a similar activity at Linden, where many persons cleaned up a section from the market to the boat landing. The campaign in Bartica was postponed owing to high tides there and it is now scheduled for next Saturday.

While the campaign is intended to remove the debris from the shore line, it also aims to record the amount and the source of the debris collected. It is hoped the information generated will heighten public awareness and educate the public on the environmental and human health impact of inappropriate solid waste management. In addition the campaign hopes to effect positive change and promote water pollution prevention efforts. When compiled, a report of the findings is to be made public. This is expected to be completed in two weeks owing to the postponement of the Bartica cleanup.

Groups of persons, each fortified with gloves and trash bags, blanketed the area to remove the garbage which had accumulated on the shore and along the seawall. Among the various items found by the volunteers were plastic and glass bottles, lunch boxes, shoes, discarded pieces of underwear and used condoms.

Many of the mostly young volunteers persevered, in spite of their sometimes unusual findings and the sweltering heat. "I just don't like to see the garbage," said one volunteer when asked why she had joined in. Many of them cited the importance of preserving the environment and pointed to the dangers posed by the refuse which had accumulated. Some also alluded to the campaign being a starting point to develop awareness of the importance of protecting the environment, especially in their respective communities.

Speaking with Stabroek News, one of the local co-ordinators, Afira Approo of Iwokrama, said she was pleasantly surprised by the amount of volunteers. But she lamented that support from some sponsors had failed to materialise, despite their promises. She said these included a few large companies which indirectly contributed to the accumulation of refuse along the seawalls. Approo was forced to make last-minute purchases of many of the trash bags since those which had been promised never appeared.

She said the exercise was much more than an anti-littering campaign, as many perceived it to be. Noting that Guyana was now committed to this yearly exercise, she highlighted the opportunities it would provide, particularly in the future, since, through the data accumulated, various social, chemical, economic, and lifestyle changes could be monitored. This, she indicated, could provide benefits especially in educational awareness, which was one of the focal points of the exercise.