Record turnout for Montego Bay's coastal cleanup
A record 1000-plus volunteers turned out at 10 locations across the Montego Bay coastline to participate in clean-up activities on International Coastal Clean-up Day, which was observed on Saturday, September 17.
The activities were coordinated by the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust's outreach officer, Joshua Bailey, in collaboration with director of youth services of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay, Natasha Parchment-Clarke. The volunteers included students from primary and high schools and tertiary institutions.
"The response this year was phenomenal," said Parchment-Clarke. "The support of local businesses and the environmental consciousness of the youth combined to make this year the largest event to date.
"The figures were being tallied whilst I was being interviewed (on radio) ... and when the number 1,029 was passed to me, I nearly burst out crying! Josh and I had worked really hard leading up to this day and had just kept pushing for 1,000 volunteers and it happened! We are so excited and delighted!" she added.
Clean-up activities spanned from Lilliput in the east to Reading, close to the St James-Hanover parish border, in the west.
The activities were supported by the Jamaica Environment Trust and the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Other sponsors included Secrets Resorts, Sandals Foundation, DFL Importers, Hilton, CPJ, Stanley's, Regal Bakery, Good Hope, Cashwiz, KPMG, Rainforest Seafoods, Chukka, Reef Ecological and Australian High Commission, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, American Airlines, MBJ and Rosehall Development.
Parchment-Clarke said the largest worksite was the coastline parallel to the Freeport Main Road, which attracted 412 volunteers and saw a total of 3,681 pounds of garbage being removed by National Solid Waste Management Authority and the Greenwood-based Jamaica Recycle Partners.
According to Bailey, the smallest site that was cleaned was perhaps of greatest importance. He said 20 volunteers, which included young Blue Marlin Swim Club members and Montego Bay Marine Park-trained scuba divers, cleaned underwater and managed to remove 205 pounds of garbage from the sea.
Statistics from the clean-up efforts show that more than 11,624 pounds of garbage, 11,474 plastic bottles, 5,265 plastic bags and 2,443 styrofoam containers were removed from the coastal zone in the clean-up.
"If everyone reduced their usage and disposed of their garbage responsibly, beach clean-ups would become a thing of the past. Since my first ICC event in 2010, I have stopped using plastic 'scandal' bags and eliminated styrofoam from my life. Daily, I walk with a bag of reusable containers, bottles and bags that I use to make a difference - if everyone chooses to do one thing, these combined actions could have a great impact," Parchment-Clarke said.