How important is a clean environment to the people of the Virgin Islands? Just ask the 22 people, young and old, who came out to the Red Hook Mangrove salt pond area for our recent Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Clean-up September 26 event held in association with the University of the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service (UVI-VIMAS) and number of groups. Students, teachers, environmental groups banded together and collected data on what folks discarded and stopped from ending up in our coastal waters. This year not only did we use data cards but for the first time we used a special Ocean Conservancy app to track what ended up as litter ranging from mostly plastic, glass and aluminum bottles and cans to plastic bags, food containers, utensils and cigarette butts just to name a few items.
Littering and trashing of our islands are unacceptable but it continues just about unabated every day. Please just look into the eyes of a child who cleaned up a beach or another part of the island recently and ask yourself, do you have a heart and care about our islands when I litter? It is time for the Virgin Islands to show our pride and not only collect data that will be used by lawmakers and leaders in making decisions about what and how we should handle litter but to help keep our islands clean and to be better stewards of our oceans.
Thank you goes out to Aaliyah Williams, Yoan Garcia, Litzy Halle and Merle Vanterpool of Lockhart Elementary School, Jonisha Aubain of Charlotte Amalie High School, Marie Paul and Nicole Reyes Oyando of Ivana Eudora Kean High School, Daja-Marie Simon of All Saints Cathedral School, Runda Brown and Justin Caffey of the AYA Institute, Benita Martin of We Grow Food Inc., Javon Stout and Howard Forbes Jr. of UVI-VIMAS, Dalma Simon of the Environmental Association St. Thomas-St. John, and the VI Conservation Society.
Additionally, thank you to Dennis Rodrick, Michelle Emerson Lewis, Jason Lewis, Judith Grybowski, Dichi Mc Sween, Kelly Neptune and Oluwasheyi Celaire. Special thanks to the American Yacht Harbor marina for supplying us with trash bags that we used in bagging up and removing over 145 pounds of litter that day from the area.
The International Coastal Clean-up events started on September 19 and will continue until October 31, we urge your group, school or association to lend a hand. Many groups have done so this year and we thank them for their efforts! Please contact USVI_VIMAS and Mr. Forbes the St. Thomas and St. John coordinator at 340- 693-1672 or Marcia Taylor on St. Croix at 340-692-4046 to set up your event today. You can make a difference and keep our ocean free of debris!
Jason Budsan, Environmental Association of St. Thomas–St. John
Virgin Islands Conservation Society