The CNMI joined the rest of the Micronesia island communities last Friday for the inaugural Micronesia Cleanup Day in a simultaneous drive against garbage in the region.
In proclaiming Sept. 13 as Micronesia Cleanup Day, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the occasion recognizes the threat that trash poses to the island—harming marine life, contaminating the islands’ unique natural resources, and hurting the tourism industry.
Torres, who led the cleanup at the Civic Center Beach in Susupe with Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, said the day also serves as a public awareness campaign that highlights how important the environment is.
“There’s a saying ‘leave it cleaner than when you find it,’” Torres said. “We encourage the community and our tourists to enjoy the beauty of what we have here on our island, [and] in order for us to continue this, we need to make sure we maintain and clean our island.”
Torres appealed to everyone to protect the islands. “Let’s protect our islands, our beaches or waters, our land. And today is just to show that one Micronesia can do a showcase around the world that we, as Micronesians, can do this together at the same time.”
Division of Coastal Resources Management director Janice Castro described the day as a CNMI-wide effort where government agencies, private organizations, and individuals volunteered. DCRM made sure that there would not be an overlap among volunteers to cover as much ground as possible.
Jonathan Arriola, also of Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, said that besides doing cleanups, people should also reuse, recycle, and properly dispose of their trash—not drive off into the jungle and dump it.
One volunteer, Bruce Camacho, said he joined to help pick up trash to emphasize the point that the island is home and should be treated as one.
“It’s our island, and it’s our home. So let’s make it look like our home,” Camacho said. “In order for us to promote tourism, we’ve got to keep our island clean. A healthier island, a better economy.”
This Friday, Sept. 21, the CNMI will also be joining in the annual celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup. For those who want to join the ICC, sign up at dcrm.gov.mp or contact ICC coordinator Colleen Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.