Litter that begins anywhere can end up impacting the health of our oceans. Tune in to hear my interview with Dann Diez about the International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Oceans make up over 70 percent of the earth's surface. The seas connect all of us to each other, beyond boundaries. Whatever harm we do on land trickles out to the ocean, through evaporation and the cycle of water.
Dann Diez is part of the Philippines National Clean Up Day Coalition. He is the founder and CEO of Sustainable Energy and Enterprise Development for Communities (SEED4COM).
International Coastal Cleanup Day
The International Coastal Cleanup began more than 30 years ago, when communities rallied together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline.
Held the third Saturday in September annually and convened by Ocean Conservancy, the goal is working toward trash-free seas. This year, the cleanup day will be held on September 21, 2019, one day after the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019.
Philippines National Cleanup Day
In the Philippines, the National Cleanup Day is in conjunction with the ICC. This is the day where all Filipinos are encouraged to go out and clean our surroundings towards a common goal of collecting and documenting trash littering our coastline that would serve as a guide for government, manufacturing industries, businesses and individuals in making smart solutions to the marine debris problem.
However, despite all this effort, the Philippines is still ranked #3 as the biggest dumper of plastics in the ocean. There is an urgent need to address this issue of marine litter and beach clean-up alone is not enough.
Preparing For The Cleanup
Start by doing "Waste Mapping". This is the process of surveying the site, identifying the types of trash and quantities. That way you can plan for the number of people, trucks and supplies. Storymaps from ESRI is a free resource that can be used for mapping environmental projects.
Volunteers are assigned to pick up a specific type of materials: plastics, glass, cans and residuals going to the landfill.
Innovative approaches can reuse the items. Broken glass pieces can be used in jewelry or art. Plastics are being used in Eco-Bricks.
During the cleanup, Data Forms from Ocean Conservancy are used to track the number of volunteers, types of trash and quantities collected. This information can then be used to identify the problem and work toward new policies that prevent the trash in the first place.
Find out more from Ocean Conservancy, how to prepare for a Cleanup Day.
Under the Sea
The next logical question is, what about all the pollution in the ocean? While many problems are due to liquid wastes which are harder to remediate, "ghost nets" are a big problem that can be addressed.
For example, a study of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch published in 2018 found that 46% of the plastic was from fishing nets.
In the Philippines, a group of divers called the Sea Knights finds and removes nets that are caught on the corals. These nets can damage the corals and interfere with a vibrant ecosystem. The divers remove the nets then replant coral to reforest the coral reefs.
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Beyond the Cleanup Day: Environmental Summit
It can be depressing to do a cleanup, then turn around and see trash accumulating again. That's why the recommended format is to do a cleanup day to raise awareness, then follow it up with a summit.
The International Coastal Cleanup Philippines (ICCPH) Environmental Summit will be held at Hoops Dome, Lapu-lapu City, Cebu, Philippines on September 25-26, 2019.
Click here to watch the summit intro video on Facebook.
This event is co-presented by the Local government of Cordova and Lapu-lapu City in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Coastwatch Council Secretariat (NCWCS) together with the Sustainable Energy and Enterprise Development for Communities (SEED4COM) in collaboration with International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians, Philippine Marine Environment Protection Association, The Lighthouse Marina Resort Legacy Foundation, and Lara at Juan Media.
This includes a track for youth empowerment training, for the elected youth.
Dann talks about communities and manufacturers who are taking the next steps to move toward a circular economy.
For example, communities are looking at how to weave plastics and paper. Another option is to use plastics in PET bottles, that then get used in Eco-Bricks for building. The overall idea is to consider these materials as resources, rather than just burying them in the landfill.
When we start thinking holistically, it's a much more creative approach where we can challenge the existing ways of doing things.
Another strategy is focusing on repairs, rather than tossing out. "There are so many "R"s now!" Repair, refuse, rethink and respect.
"It's a matter of respecting nature and respecting creation," said Dann.
Clean Up... Wherever You Are
"You don't have to be by the ocean to organize a cleanup," said Dann. If you're in the mountains or far from the sea, you can still organize a cleanup and make an impact.