On Saturday morning, 65 volunteers – mostly children and their families – joined the Protect Our Future students in a community cleanup event at Safehaven.
The event was coordinated by the education and outreach team of Protect Our Future and was in partnership with both Plastic Free Cayman and Ocean Heroes Bootcamp.
Grade 12 students Geneve Magnan and Isabela Watler were the main coordinators and oversaw logistics.
Grade 10 students Lili Aleria, Demae Lee, Lauren Colaiacovo and Angelina Sargsayan ran the education booth to teach all the children and their families about the dangers of plastic pollution and alternatives to plastic consumer goods.
Each family was paired with a student from Protect Our Future in order to continue the education process throughout the event and to help the younger students with the cleanup.
“I was very excited to see so many younger kids at the beach cleanup,” Isabela said. “This event was designed to teach little kids about plastic pollution. Our new POF members did a great job teaching the kids and buddying with them… We are very hopeful that these collaborations will continue into the future.”
A press release from Protect Our Future stated: “Over 900 pounds was removed. Half of the trash was marine debris that had washed up on the shore, while the other half was local litter produced from community members disposing of their waste in bushes and on the coast. On the marine debris side, hundreds of plastic bottles, bottle caps, fishing line and polystyrene (Styrofoam) pieces were collected.
It further added, “In terms of the local litter, aside from hundreds of beer bottles and cans, surprisingly two huge refrigerators, a toilet, a generator, many dirty diapers and thousands of cigarette butts were removed from the area. This does highlight a dark side of our local litter problem. It became very clear to Protect Our Future students that the Cayman’s anti-litter law is certainly not enforced.”
“The [Safehaven] Protect Our Future beach cleanup yesterday was our most successful 100% youth-led beach cleanup to date,” Geneve said. “More than 105 bags were collected by volunteers of ages ranging from 4 to 60+. The waste collected highlights the local litter problem on island, and although discouraging, is a reminder that there is still the need for public education on the topic of litter.”
She also commented on the importance of pollution awareness.
“One of the additional goals of this beach cleanup was to forge connections across the youth, teaching younger children about the problem of plastic pollution in Cayman, and how to instill real and tangible change. I would say this goal was not only met, but exceeded, as many younger children came with their parents to learn and help clean our beaches,” Geneve added.
The press release addressed government’s attention to the issue.
“As we anticipate the formation of our new government, we do hope that our future leaders seriously consider a ban on specific plastic items, a stricter enforcement of our anti-litter law, and instituting a serious recycling and composting plan of action,” the release stated. “If done properly, each of these initiatives could create local jobs for our community while improving our environment.”
The community is encouraged to join the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Earth Day cleanup here.