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We need to take care of our environment

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Tue, Sept 20. 2011

Editor: For the past five years, JEMS Progressive Community Organization, the Community Development Division, the Environmental Management Department, and CWSA have partnered with local organizations, schools and community volunteers in a one-day river and beach cleanup initiative.{{more}} This activity is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, spearheaded by the Washington, D.C.- based Ocean Conservancy, and unites volunteers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with thousands of volunteers around the globe.

Each year, our campaign engages more and more organizations, school groups and individuals to clean more and more river, beach and community sites across the island.

Each year, we systematically document the types of trash collected, identify their source, and attempt to change behaviour. But each year, the types and amount of debris only mount up – plastic bottles, glass, tin cans, toys, dolls, shoes, appliances, van and car parts, oil drums – all items placed in the environment by human beings, by our very own neighbors.

Each year, we come together with intentions to go beyond cleaning up.

Each year, we ask “What more can we do?” We repeatedly cite the strong need for community education, media campaigns, lobbying of appropriate bodies and enforcement of laws on the books. We tell each other stories of littering we’ve witnessed, of people tossing trash from vans, into storm drains, into rivers and along the roadside. We beg for more trash bins, and while more bins may provide some relief, the real need is for personal responsibility.

We need to get rid of the negative attitude that by littering we are creating employment. This is utter rubbish. We need to continuously think outside the box and understand the consequences of our actions.

For example, certain types of litter hold water which can turn into breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can then lead to outbreaks of serious diseases, such as dengue fever. Trash that is not disposed of properly also attracts rodents, especially rats. We frequently compete with these around Kingstown, especially when it rains. It’s time to step up our litter education and master the proper disposal of trash.

This year, the International Coastal Cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 17. The theme of “Trash-Free Seas” will ring around the world as thousands of volunteers come together to make a difference around the globe on a single day. Once again, St. Vincent and the Grenadines wants to be a part of that difference.

If you haven’t made plans already, it isn’t too late to organize a community, river or beach cleanup activity on that day, and to help build awareness of the need to take better care of our island. If there is no organized activity in your community, I would encourage you to personally make a difference by picking up trash in the immediate area near your house.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in being part of an organized activity, you’re invited to join the members of JEMS, JEMS Youth, Southeast Development Inc. (SEDI), and the Environmental Clubs at St. Clair Dacon Secondary School and St. Joseph’s Convent at Marriaqua for a cleanup at Stubbs Bay, starting at

8 a.m. Just show up with gloves and a couple of large trash bags, and pitch in with us to clean that area which continues to be a repository for trash thrown into the river upstream, or brought in by the ocean from more northerly beaches.

We live in one of the most beautiful spots under heaven, and we need to take care of it and preserve it.

Rhonda Lee, President{br}JEMS Progressive Community Organization

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