Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Barbados Clean Up Day And International Beach Clean Up

How many meals on plastic plates? How many cups of soda in plastic cups? How many special journeys to dispose of household materials? How many days that the wind just blew plastic bags hither and yon and they landed on the beach? I have no idea what figures to put to these questions but they still went through my head as I walked along Browne's Beach on Saturday morning, filling large black plastic bags with the debris from those innumerable events.

The Optimists with the help of other clubs such as Lions were out in force and with friends bright and early. It was a beautiful morning and not going for a walk along the beach was hard to resist. But, we stuck to the task and found ourselves combing undergrowth and under boat hulls and into drainage channels to pick up the stuff that others had not seen fit to remove.

Most were keen to tackle the task. The children went for it very well, and shared bags or went alone to haul back their findings. Naturally, they did not like the feel of some of the garbage or the smell but they realised the worth of what they were doing. After all, it will be their world after it has been ours.

The reactions of some who were at the beach for the more usual activities were interesting. Some sat near garbage and were happy to point to it to be collected. Some lamented that we had to be there at all and if only the worked could be careful of itself. Some were not really checking at first, but soon noticed. A group of Filipinos were having a game of volleyball and then breakfast--serious food, like rice, barbecued chicken, pickled egg plant and more--all before 7am. They were quick to offer me some food, and never one to refuse such an offer, I found myself hailing the world in Filipino. Viva international cooperation!

Some were very aloof. In fact, one lady made a special point of not touching any of the trash, and insisted that the National Conservation Council should be clearing up. We could agree, but we could also do the cleaning. I asked if she would be happy to leave the beach as it was. I was shocked when she said "yes". I wondered why she was there, combing through the pages of the Nation, which she also did not want anyone to touch.

The work had begun with prayer and we were well supported by faith as we grubbed and pulled. At the end of the collection, the trash had to be sorted so that recyclables were apart, and general rubbish like wood and pipes and other unmentionables were put into different piles. Then the collections were weighed. The tally was 240 kilos/530 pounds; a horrible amount. (The press report that some 17,000 kilos/35,000 pounds was collected from 28 beaches and illegal dumping sites by 778 volunteers, see Advocate report.)

The Big Dogs of the organization were all pleased and if we were handling trash, we were also having fund talking trash, except when it came to encouraging people to deal with trash.

The Optimists lived up to their name, and were happy to see the turn out.It was about our future; about protecting our Earth; about developing good habits.

Will the beach need cleaning again next week? Maybe, but someone will be there to do something.

The sea seemed blissfully fresh after handling all that dirt.


Sargeant said...

Every time I read about these clean up efforts I am reminded of the movie Groundhog Day where every so often one repeats the same tasks over and over. Shouldn’t we be at a stage where we are aware of the environment and our ability to impact on it for right or wrong? What has Gov’t done to get its citizens to act responsibly? Are there enough signs extolling the value of a clean environment? Are there enough trash cans available to collect the trash? Are there frequent collections to ensure the refuse in the trash cans doesn’t spill on the streets? Has the Gov’t embarked on an education program geared towards the children in primary school to ensure that the next generation is more responsible than past ones?

Or is the Gov’t deferring to civic minded citizens to organize the periodic clean ups and hopes that all will be well?

Dennis Jones said...


What I see is a broad lack of civic awareness, which means the many signs are not worth much. This is compounded by a lack of pressure to change that mindset through efforts such as recycling. Those who are interested do the good deeds at home and outside; the others continue the old ways. It may need a 'crisis' for people to change, but at least SSA should be pushing for separation in recylcables and other. The main recyler that I know, B's Bottles, does a good job over a wide range of items (see previous posts), but SSA attends every residence and could complement that greatly.