International Coastal Clean-up Day in Subic Bay
The world celebrates International Coastal Clean-up Day this September with volunteers from different countries joining clean up drives to remove garbage from beaches and waterways.
I joined my second coastal clean-up this year with Subic Bay’s Shore It Up!, led by the Lighthouse Marina Resort together with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority among other partners. There were different venues for clean ups from the Subic Bay area to Olongapo city to neighboring towns and areas.
The call time was an early 6AM on a Saturday morning (groan), but I got there on time with only a few groups of people gathered in the Lighthouse area waiting for the program to begin. A light rain was falling so I didn’t expect a lot of early birds like last year’s. I had the chance to take this shot of the coastline before the volunteers arrived, and it really shows the workload waiting for us. A lot of debris has washed up on the shore because of last night’s heavy rains and wind. It’s as if nature is really participating in this event, showing us a glimpse of the global problem of marine trash and pollution.
The rain didn’t let up as more volunteers arrived for the clean-up, but it was light enough to let us do our job. I lined up for the registration booth and signed up, receiving a data card for items collected during the clean up. The card instructs volunteers to keep track and count of the debris they pick up and record it under the given categories:
- Shoreline and Recreational Activities: Debris from beach-goers, sports/games, festivals, litter from streets/storm drains, etc. Example: plastic bags, food wrappers, toys
- Ocean / Waterway Activities: Debris from recreational / commercial fishing and boat / vessel operations. Example: Bait containers and packaging, crates, rope, fishing net
- Smoking Related Activities: Ex. Cigarettes and cigarette filters, tobacco wrappers
- Dumping Activities: Ex. Appliances, tires, batteries
- Medical Personal Hygiene: diapers, condoms, syringes
- Debris Items of Local Concern
© 2012 Ocean Conservancy
The morning was gray as the program started with a prayer and the singing of the national anthem. People started arriving in groups, representing schools, companies and organizations. Volunteers were gathered for the clean-up drive program rundown, with reminders on safety and hygiene.
The event coordinators provided these large trash bags for the coastal clean-up, but volunteers were also encouraged beforehand to bring their own garbage bags and cleaning materials.
I saw these bins as well as marked garbage bags for segregation of trash picked up at the coastal clean up.
A speaker at the program mentioned that volunteers at last year’s coastal clean up numbered 8,000 people. This year, the Lighthouse targets at least 6,000 volunteers.
One thing that continues to be an encouragement is the large number of students and young people in the event. Students from elementary schools like this young girl to high school and college teenagers arrived in groups to take part in the coastal clean up. I understand most of them were compelled to participate as a requirement or incentive in their classes, but exposure to activities like these is one of the best ways to involve them in tackling global environmental challenges.
It was fun seeing groups of people wearing similar shirts or colors to represent their school, company, or organization. The activity also allowed for team building and interaction among volunteers.
This student holds a green garbage bag for collecting garbage and debris from the coastline.
Once debris has been collected, sackfuls are weighed and recorded for overall computation.
Volunteers and umbrellas fill the shore as they participate in this year’s coastal clean up drive amid the drizzling rain.
I like this reminder telling volunteers to leave natural items on the shore and “keep off” the beach grass.
Footprints left behind by volunteers. I did not stay too long for the program’s other events, but I left with a sense of encouragement that our community has not forgotten its responsibility to care for the environment, even through an annual clean-up drive event like this. Long after our footprints our gone on this shore, we will remember the lessons and reflections we had as we took part in doing something constructive for our local environment, along with thousands of others in the world celebrating International Coastal Clean Up Day this year.
Feel free to share your story about this year’s International Coastal Clean Up Day in our community discussion below.
Photo Credit: All Rights Reserved by Estel Grace Masangkay.
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