Ricardo Alcoser is mildly hopeful that Belize may have crossed a tipping point this year. The Field Executive Officer of the Scout Association of Belize, Alcoser is also the coordinator of the nation’s annual coastal (and now inland waterways) clean-up effort. And he is hoping that despite a huge increase in the number of groups, persons, and miles of coastline and banks cleaned, when the final tally is arrived at, the effort would have yielded less garbage in quantum.

If that should indeed prove to be the case, then it could signal that in terms of Belize’s environmental conservation efforts we may have turned a corner, or a bend in the river of our consciousness.

For the last 21 years the Scouts Association has spearheaded the annual exercise to clean-up a relatively speaking small portion of Belize’s hundreds of miles of coastlines and the banks of its waterways. At times it must have felt futile and even discouraging. It is only Alcoser’s third year at the helm of what is truly a gigantic task, but there’s that small glimmer of hope and perhaps reason for optimism.

Last year 598 volunteers collected 7,769 pounds of garbage in 436 bags from 12.72 miles of Belize’s coastline and waterway banks. Last Saturday approximately 1,000 Belizeans equipped with 1,000 garbage bags cleaned beaches and the banks of waterways in Corozal, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, St. George’s Caye, Orange Walk, Belize City, Placencia, Punta Gorda, Burrell Boom, San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Belmopan City, as well as along a mile of the newly re-named Philip Goldson Highway where it is bordered by the Belize River.

It will take Alcoser at least three weeks to meticulously transcribe and collate the information from the “Summary Cards” the various groups filled out, but the early reports are encouraging. And even if the amount of waste collected does exceed last year’s total, neither he nor the many willing hands who gave sweat equity to the cause of a cleaner Belize will be disappointed.

The positive takeaways are simply too many and far out weigh the inescapable conclusion that we continue to so persistently disrespect Mother Nature. Some of this year’s take will be recycled for re-use, by some of the brave young scout troops, a small virtual army of mostly primary school students.

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