A record number of volunteers turned out to mark Earth Day on Saturday, clearing mountains of trash from beaches, parks and public areas around the Cayman Islands.
An estimated 2,000 people scoured the beaches to fill bags full of discarded trash.
From whole car engines and air conditioning units to broken surfboards and thousands of beer bottles, the variety of discarded junk surprised volunteers.
Wil Pineau, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, said he was encouraged that so many people had shown up, but disheartened at the amount of trash carelessly discarded every year by Cayman Islands residents.
“There has been a record number of volunteers this year. We estimate there were more than 2,000 people. I think this just demonstrates to me that a lot of people really do care about their environment, they understand how fragile our ecosystem is and that some of the trash we see is not just unsightly, it is also dangerous.”
He said the amount of trash collected each year is only increasing and warned more enforcement might be necessary to have an impact on the problem.
“Just dumping stuff like this is harming our environment and our tourism product. Perhaps we need to see some big fines to change people’s approach.”
Saturday’s event attracted more than 30 corporate sponsors and saw community groups, church groups, schools and political groups join together to clean up their chosen spots around the island.
Cat Shields and her son Callum, 14, spent the morning collecting trash around Spotts dock.
“We found a lot of beer bottles, a lot of plastic and fishing line,” she said.
“The weirdest thing we found was snails that had made a nest inside a plastic bottle.”
Shanna Myles was out with a group from the Estera Trust around Spotts Public beach.
She said, “There was a lot of trash for a public beach. We filled about 28 bags between us. It was very surprising to see so much trash, particularly in the public areas around the cabanas where the bins are right there.”
Aaliyah McCoy was out with a group from John Gray Memorial Church in Garvin Park, West Bay.
She said she was happy to see so many volunteers out cleaning up their island.
“It was amazing. I’m proud of Cayman and glad to be a part of it.”