Aug. 30, 2007 There's only one way to pick up 50,000 tons of beach trash.
That's with the help of 6 million volunteers scouring thousands of miles of beaches and waterways, as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy.
Those are the numbers since the cleanup's start 30 years ago. "It's everyone's job to help, and it's a very fun event," said Kristen Maize, program manager at Friends of V.I. National Park.
While the official date, usually referred to in the Virgin Islands as Coastweeks, is Sept. 15, activities across the territory run during the three weeks ending Oct. 7.
Locally, more than 1,000 people picked up 19,255 pounds of trash and debris from 53 miles of shoreline. Additionally, 18 volunteers removed 500 pounds of underwater debris.
More than 80 percent of the trash comes from land-based activities such as picnics, festivals, sports and days at the beach.
The Ocean Conservancy calculates the top 10 items picked up. Across the Virgin Islands, glass beverage bottles topped the list with volunteers picking up 7,456 of them. This accounted for 15 percent of the trash.
Caps and lids were next, with the total reaching 5,960 or 12 percent of the trash.
Beverage cans came in third. Volunteers picked up 5,417 beverage cans or 11 percent of the trash.
Around the world, cigarettes and cigarette filters top the list, one-quarter of the total amount of trash picked up.
Maize said that on St. John, the Friends will hold a cleanup at Drunk Bay from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 15.
"You can just show up and help," she said.
She said the group will supply trash bags, gloves and tools. Maize suggested that participants bring water, food and their friends to make it a more enjoyable day.
To reach Drunk Bay, park at the Salt Pond Bay parking lot, walk across the sandy beach and around the rocky shore to a sign pointing the way to Drunk Bay.
Maize said that the park is in the midst of scheduling cleanups with Julius E. Sprauve and Guy Benjamin School students. She said that the Gifft Hill School organizes its own Coastweeks cleanup.
And she said that groups that already participate in the Friend's Adopt-A-Beach program will clean their beaches.
She said that while park crews will pick up the trash collected at park locations, the V.I. Waste Management Authority has agreed to pick up at locations outside the park.
Marcia Taylor, marine advisor at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, said on Sept. 15, Dive Experience will do an underwater and beach clean up in Christiansted. Another dive operator, N2 the Blue plans to clean up around the Frederiksted Pier. She said N2 the Blue will also loan a scuba tank to anyone who wants to participate.
She said St. Croix Environmental Association and Crab's Dive Club will clean up the beach at Southgate.
Taylor said details are still being worked out, but Elena Christian Junior High School, Good Hope School and Ricardo Richards Junior High School plan Coastweeks cleanups. Additionally, the Jr. ROTC program at Central High School and the Senior ROTC program at UVI plan to hold clean ups.
And she said the Trash Busters group will clean up the Altoona Lagoon.
"And the list will be growing," Taylor said.
Keshema Webbe, a life scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on St. Thomas, said that she and other St. Thomas-based coordinators are currently matching participants with beaches, with the aim of increasing the number of volunteers.
"We're kicking off Sept. 15 at Brewers Bay," she said.
She said the goal was to increase the number of volunteers.
Kemit Lewis, marine advisor at UVI's MacLean Marine Science Center, said the St. Thomas coordinators are planning to recycle the glass and cans collected during the beach cleanups.
He said they hope to work with an off-island glass artist who will show them ways to use the glass. Lewis said there is a can recycler on St. Thomas.
To participate, call Maize on St. John at 693-1392. On St. Thomas, call Webbe at 714-2333, Lewis at 693-1392 or Lillian Moolenaar at the Planning and Natural Resources Department at 774-3320, extension 5117. On St. Croix, call Taylor at 692-4046.
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