A bit of background on the new trash barrels: Residents living north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge banded together for a monthly trash pickup along the newly paved road. With the road came convenience, speed and trash. Lots of trash.
We meet on the first Friday of every month in front of the Paradise Theater at 9 a.m. for two hours of trash cleaning along the road and the beach -- reaching as far north as the new Truckstop Restaurant complex.
The absence of trash barrels made our labors somewhat discouraging, given the mounds of roadside trash we found every month.
Sue Blair, who was key in organizing the First Friday crew began working with Deputy Mayor Gary Greif to get barrels placed up north. With Gary's encouragement, Sue also organized a design contest to give the barrels a unique neighborhood appeal. This design, "Trash in the can, toes in the sand" was conceived by local expat Juanece Messervy and replicated on the barrels by town employees.
This past Friday we swelled with pride to see the barrels stationed up and down the road. It really boosted morale. We also distributed a dozen "trash pickup sticks" that were donated to the cause by a recent visitor to our island. Joining us this week were Miss Earth Belize 2015, Christine Marie Syme and Oceana representative Roxy Perez-Gentle (third time!). We were also joined by the new owners of Feliz Sports bar, Denice and her son Dustin and the new Truckstop developer, Ben Popik.
Coco Loco's beach bar donates a case of water and Village Market donates ice, which Coco Loco's owner Carmen Arenal distributes up and down the road to volunteers while she gathers full bags of trash to deposit at a central pickup point -- where the city trash truck picks them up!
We end up at the Marbucks Coffee shop which puts out iced coffee, cold water and fresh-baked cookies for us. Rose Alcantara (my wife!) brings out chilled eucalyptus-scented washcloths for everyone.
You can't ask for a more refreshing finish!
Here are the details and photos on the First Friday group: https://www.facebook.com/firstfridaytrescocos/?fref=ts
You are encouraged to join us each First Friday -- or start your own group, as has the Phoenix resort for the downtown beaches.
This isn't just about aesthetics. Trash is a health problem for the whole island. It is also an economic issue. More and more tourists are turned off by the growing presence of trash and sargassum all around the island. For those who travel north to resorts -- which should all be following the Phoenix's lead -- their first impression outside of town is what they see north of the bridge and usually it isn't all that pretty. Well, once a month at least, it looks pretty darn good.
Thank you San Pedro Town Council and First Friday sponsors and volunteers.