Today we started on something we'd been wanting to do since before we moved to Ambergris Caye -- beach cleanup. There have been some excellent organized efforts at trash cleanup here in the past with large teams of people, but we missed the last beach cleanup and didn't want to wait around for the next one. Plenty of trash builds up between organized cleanups, so there is almost always work to be done.
For a variety of reasons, lots of (mostly) plastic trash washes up on the otherwise lovely beaches here. I suspect some of it is dumped way out at sea by cruise ships and floats in, some is trash from neighboring countries that due to sea currents washes up here, and some is certainly dropped by people walking or riding bicycles on the beach, a very common form of transportation here on the island.
There is no recycling on Ambergris Caye yet, unfortunately, and not nearly enough trash bins once you get outside San Pedro Town itself. On a positive note, since glass beer and soda bottles are for-deposit, those DO get returned and do not end up on the beach, at least not for long. There are plenty of enterprising locals who pick them up quickly to turn in for cash when they do get discarded. So at least the trash that washes up on the beach is mostly lightweight and easy to haul away.
The beaches in front of resorts and condominium projects along the sea are raked clean of sea grass and have trash picked up daily by workers, but beaches in front of undeveloped properties are not cared for, and as a result, trash accumulates. There are several stretches of beach just north of Chico Caribe that we see every time we ride our bikes or run north, and it makes us sad to see all the trash marring their beauty, so we decided to start working on them. Once we make one pass through all three stretches, it will be much easier to keep trash picked up in the future.
Hazile keeps our beach in tip-top shape here at Chico Caribe
Here's the beach he cleans up and rakes nearly every day
Today we started on the furthest north and longest stretch of beach we plan to make part of our informal "adopt-a-beach" project. You can see from the "before" photos some of the plastic trash mixed into the sea grass before we began. And there are a lot of smaller bits you can't see in the photo.
The stretch of beach we worked on today -- before the cleanup
It didn't take long to pick up the plastic on most of this rather long stretch, and it looked much better when we were finished. In fact, we ran out of trash bags before we ran out of trash, and had to leave a small area at the south end of the beach unfinished, but we'll get back to it another day. It doesn't take much bending over these days to get my fifty year-old back to barking, so this activity is best done in short bursts.
And the "after" shot:
Fortunately, a small effort can make a big difference, especially in a country like Belize, which has many fewer people and resources to go around than the United States. We are so happy to be here and perhaps to help make the place we've fallen in love with just a little bit better than when we found it.
This stretch of beach could use adopting too. It's just north of the White Sands Dive Shop and Journey's End.