The results of a coastal cleanup revealed a quite sad surprise—that here in the CNMI, beverage cans rank third in trash collected along the coast.
This was an unwelcome surprise since beverage cans are not even included in the worldwide statistics of the top 10 most collected trash, as issued by the Ocean Conservancy during the International Coastal Cleanup last September.
Cigarette butts rank first, with microplastics, or plastic pieces less than 2.5 cm, as second.
ICC coordinator Colleen Flores of the Coastal Resources Management of the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality said that this could be due to a number of things.
“It is interesting to see that beverage cans are our top three [and] is the third most collected item [in the CNMI],” Flores said. “This could be due to a number of things. It could be from maybe picnic, some parties on the beach, on illegal dumping, or, just people maybe throwing their cans out there.”
While the cigarette butts did not come as a surprise, it is mostly a “city” trend that is making its way to the islands. Worldwide, cigarette butts rank as the top collected item during the ICC.
“The problem with cigarette butts is that a lot of people think that it’s a very small thing, and that it will be gone in like five to 10 years. But the problem with that is that there is just so much cigarette butts that are littering the little islands. And it’s not just the islands, it’s worldwide.”
Flores also emphasized that while it is good that “we are picking up trash, and every year, we are picking up more and more trash,” this just also means that there are more and more trash in the ocean and the environment.
BECQ-CRM is appealing to the community to be mindful not just of the way people dispose of trash, but also of the things being used and consumed every day. Flores reminds everybody that simple consistent actions are what it takes to keep the CNMI clean.
“Dispose of your trash properly. Use reusable products, like reusable shopping bags, reusable beverage containers, reusable straws,” Flores said.
“We also always tell people to be mindful of what they are consuming. So when going shopping or going to the store, try to steer away from packaged foods, get something in a glass bottle, or something that can be recycled.”
The CNMI, during the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup, had 1,617 volunteers, adopted 76 cleanup locations, and successfully documented and removed a total weight of 9,427 lbs—or 4.7 tons—of trash and marine debris.