Coastweeks is your opportunity to help clean up V.I. beaches
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Coastweeks in the Virgin Islands continues throughout the territory. Coastweeks began almost 30 years ago when the Ocean Conservancy saw the need to bring attention to the world's coasts. Volunteers from different organizations over the years - such as the Environmental Association of St. Thomas and St. John and many other organizations and individuals - document what was picked up for these yearly events to help pinpoint problems and develop solutions for our trash and waste.
The partners this year include the Ivanna Eudroa Kean High School JROTC, The Nature Conservancy, V.I. Ecotours, Virgin Islands Network of Environmental Educators, Virgin Islands Conservation Society, Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and Ocean Conservancy.
"Trash-free Seas" is the theme for this year's Coastweeks worldwide. We would like for the public to join us for our cleanup, that will get rid of that trash that finds its way to our ocean. Please meet us at Kean High at 8 a.m. on Saturday for the cleanup, or contact Anne Marie Hoffman at email@example.com or 626-6773 for more information.
We will be cleaning up a large area of the east end, including the St. Thomas East End Reserve - a recently created area that includes 9.6 km of waterways, mangroves and shoreline. Refreshments and events will follow in the afternoon at Vessup Beach.
Why is important?
In the Virgin Islands, 795 people picked up 7,429 pounds of trash from 571 miles of shoreline in during the 2011 Coastweeks. That means that same amount did not continue to plague our lands and water to harm or destroy our environment.
There are so many items that can and should be placed in its proper place for disposal or be recycled. Some items, such as plastic bags, should not be used at all or banned, in my opinion.
I urge our lawmakers to solve this with legislation that will either ban, tax or incentivize consumers to use renewable bags instead. Plastic bags can kill sea turtles thinking that it is a jelly fish, and those bags do not break down for over 1000 years. Aluminum cans are recycled in the Virgin Islands; please go to www.eastvi.org under the activities section to find out more about the bin program and Memorandum of Understanding. See how you can help in this effort.
Our recycling bins are free to any interested group or organization that signs on to our volunteer program. With the help of our partners, we have collected more than 1,950 pounds of aluminum cans in the last couple of years, and with the monies collected, we will be providing more recycling bins for needy organizations that would like to join us in our efforts.
EAST is also a member of the USVI Recycling Partnership, which urges recycling throughout the territory, please stay tuned for their website and outline of goals.
So please respect our environment year round, and join us for the East End Reserves Coastal Clean Up for Coastweeks 2012.
- Jason Budsan, St. Thomas.