Monday, September 21, 2009

First Photos of International Coastal Cleanup

Since the Commonwealth lies 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, our day starts hours before your does. That means that the 600 or so volunteers participating in this year's International Coastal Cleanup on the islands of Saipan and Tinian were some of the first participants on the planet. Go us!

Saipan and Tinian had 19 adopted sites this year, our first year participating in this annual international event. We organized our cleanups the same way we organized last April's Island Wide Cleanup. Groups adopted a spot, recruited their own volunteers and set their own time, and the Beautify CNMI coalition supported them with free supplies and help hauling the garbage away.

As the Director of Community Service for the Rotary Club of Saipan I adopted and organized a cleanup of Tank Beach in Kagman. Tank Beach is a north facing beach and on Saipan that means that trash from the ocean washes up on it constantly; We mostly found rope, discarded fishing gear, small bits of plastic, and hundreds of water bottles. Unlike the beaches on the western shore of Saipan, we weren't finding plates, plastic forks, or dumped household garbage.

We spent about two hours scouring the beach for bits of plastic. When we were done we had amassed quite the pile of trash. I'm always amazed at how much trash you get from a seemingly clean beach when you pick it all up and put it in one place.

We'll know by Monday what the combined efforts of all 600 people are. Many hands make light work and with over 600 volunteers I expect that the amount of trash we picked off our beaches this morning to be in the thousands of pounds.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's event with special thanks going to Bridge Capital for funding our cleanup supplies and the Division of Environmental Quality for being the central organizers.

I have posted more photos on the Beautify CNMI Facebook Fan Page and other volunteers have posted photos on their profiles from cleanups at Jeffries Beach, Paupau Beach, and on Tinian.