Plastic continues to threaten the environment and there have been attempts to address this problem on many different levels. On September 1, the Belize Audubon Society in collaboration with the Department of the Environment held a clean up at Belizean Beach located on the George Price Highway. Dareece Chuc, Environmental Education Director at the Belize Audubon Society spoke about the clean up.
Dareece Chuc – Environmental Education Director at Belize Audubon Society: “For us to beat plastic pollution here in Belize we need to work together as a community and so that means conservation organizations, it means the Department of Environment, it means people, everybody from Belize has a role to play. So when we think about this whole issue of plastic pollution it seems very big and we might get overwhelmed and so what I always encourage people to do is to eliminate one thing from your life or try to replace it with something that’s more environmentally friendly. For example, a simple thing whenever we do these cleanups we find that the shopping bags are a regular item that we find and so people dispose of those as garbage even though people tend to reuse them in their homes as a garbage bag it still ends up in our environment. So if we can reduce that one thing, have people take their own shopping bags to the store that is one initiative that the Belize Audubon Society has been doing for over ten years, issuing what we call our green bags to encourage Belizeans to take your bag to the grocery store.”
Maxine Monsanto, the Environmental Officer at the Department of the Environment said that the initiative is part of a week long activities.
Maxine Monsanto – the Environmental Officer at the Department of the Environment: “Today’s activity is actually two fold. It’s’ a cleanup of the beach, yes but it started off as a scientific monitoring. Belizean Beach is actually one of our designated monitoring sites for macroplastics or the large plastic that you can see in order to determine how much plastic is reaching the beach or how much marine litter is within the environment in these locations. This location was monitored previously in June and again in July or August and now today. What they do is that there is a specific protocol where they grid off a section, collect all the little within that section and then they sort it according to a category sheet, it’s something like 200 plus categories and its how we get our top 10 items on that comprise marine litter within the environment. This activity is part of the ongoing activities, this is actually one of the last steps before we close off our work with the Commonwealth Litter Program and the team from the Center For Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture; we’ve been doing work with them for the last four months in the development of a marine litter action plan and identification of policies and actions that need to be done by Belize in order to reduce or eliminate marine litter specifically plastics or microplastics.”
Monsanto added that on Thursday and Friday there will be a high level meeting focusing on marine litter and waste management with representatives from the different Commonwealth countries.