Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up!
Monday, April 4th, 2016
As a tourism destination, excessive garbage in public areas should be non-existent. In San Pedro alone, plastic, aluminum, Styrofoam, glass, and paper often make an unpleasant appearance on our streets, beaches, and empty lots. Not only does garbage make people’s nose cringe, it also has consequences such as extensive pollution and health problems. In an effort to maintain a healthy society, the San Pedro Town Council urges residents to eliminate unsightly waste by not littering.
Improper disposal of garbage happens when people opt to drop their garbage anywhere, rather than finding a proper bin to throw it in. Mayor Daniel Guerrero is concerned about the unappealing sight of trash and it is their biggest problem. “We have to make changes. It is not like we are not fighting it, it is just the people. We have to change this culture of throwing trash everywhere,” said Guerrero.
San Pedro is on an island, certain difficulties arise when it comes to disposal of trash. There is no landfill and no multipurpose recycling program besides the glass and plastic bottle collection at Bowen & Bowen Distributors. As such, Ambergris Caye faces two big problems: land and marine pollution.
Most of our solid waste is not biodegradable, so trash can survive for thousands of years. When people throw garbage in the ocean, marine creatures are subjected to ingesting those items. “We have talked about banning foam plates and foam cups and encouraging biodegradable products. It is expensive, but that is where the government kicks in, and gives an incentive,” said Guerrero.
Eliminating garbage is a huge task, the SPTC believes that the best way to approach the problem is to understand it. “Children are often led by example. We have to target children in school and even adults to teach the younger children to avoid polluting the town with trash,” said Guerrero. The best way to eliminate waste and protect the environment is using the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reducing the amount of waste used, reusing materials by repurposing them, and recycling items by sorting them into categories of glass, metal, and plastic.
“It takes every single resident of the island to be involved so we can have positive development in San Pedro. You have many people who sit aside, watch and criticize, but they won’t do anything to help find a solution. Sometimes you have to be part of the solution,” said Guerrero.
Many active groups in town have the spirit to clean up in order to keep La Isla Bonita. ‘First Friday Tres Cocos Trash Pickup’ includes residents of Tres Cocos, joined by volunteers, who clean north of the bridge every first Friday of the month. They meet in the parking lot of the Paradise Theatre at 9am, just north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge, collecting garbage for two hours, if weather permits. Every Saturday at 8am, The Phoenix Resort services the community with a group of volunteers to help clear up the beaches. The Phoenix encourages anyone who would like to volunteer to feel free to stop by the front of their resort. Gloves, garbage bags, and water are provided.
We encourage willing community members to start small ‘keep your yard clean’ campaigns, and ask neighbors to join in to keep neighborhoods clean. One simple act can ignite more action, and perhaps more people will step to the plate.
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