Ambergris Caye is a bustling, growing island community. Some areas have more public services than others. The “Middle Island” area begins about 4 miles north of town and extends an additional 4 miles. There are no public services for cleaning beaches or roadsides in this area.
Residents, via their Middle Island Neighborhood Watch group decided to tackle the problem of beach and roadside trash. The program has been a smashing success. Outlined below is a brief story of what we’re doing on both beach and road in our neighborhood. We found that the more we accomplish the more support we receive. The cleaner the area is, the longer it stays clean. The community is coming together in a really good way and the results are significant.
As you know, plastic is in the sea and much of it lands up on what would otherwise be pristine natural beaches. We decided to tackle this ongoing problem as follows:
1. A regular update to neighbors on conditions. Trash deposits are sometimes very light and at others really heavy. Many of property owners are part-time and may not know what is happening in a given day. Our communications along with photos keep them aware.
2. Organizing deep-cleaning of beach ares. There is considerable undeveloped property along the beach and nobody is “there” to clean it. Donations from concerned residents and owners have funded small teams of cleaners, have paid for materials (bags and gloves) and the hauling and disposal of the trash collected. Volunteers oversee these clean-up efforts.
3. A construction team has made some beach barrels (wood enclosure/heavy-duty barrel inside) as shown below. Photos of prototypes were distributed to the MINW area via our mail list. Property owners have stepped forward to sponsor one or more beach barrels. The design is meant to be both attractive and practical. We have a lot of raccoons in the area so we needed a heavy lid on the enclosures to ensure that what goes in the barrel stays in the barrel until it is collected and taken away. Sponsors pay for a barrel (cost is nominal - $160 US), typically placing it in front of, or very near their property. They then are responsible for maintaining the barrel - for putting trash liners in the barrel and periodically emptying and carrying away the refuse along with their own household garbage.
One neighbor donated some educational signs which are being put on each barrel.
Middle Island Neighborhood Watch also tackled the problem of roadside refuse in the area. The program followed steps 1 & 2 noted above. Donations funded deep cleans and then resorts stepped up to make and maintain roadside trash barrels. Large educational signs accompany each barrel. After a deep clean is completed we still need to clean roadsides regularly. A program of resorts and businesses adopting a stretch of road is currently being implemented.
Roadside barrels with educational signage