Gearing up for a plastic-free Marianas

Posted on Aug 22 2019

In 2018, the International Coastal Cleanup in the CNMI drew over 1,500 volunteers, collecting a total of 9,180 lbs of trash from over 50 sites.

Based on previous International Coastal Cleanups, it has been observed that the marine debris collected on the west side of Saipan—the Saipan Lagoon—are mostly land-based pollutants. That means the garbage collected comes from inland and most of it plastic.

“It’s almost tradition to use disposable plastics for parties. It’s the biggest thing,” said Colleen C. Flores of the Division of Coastal Resources Management and coordinator of the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup ICC.

“A lot of people like to have barbecues and gatherings by the beach, but everything that’s being brought are disposable plastics, so reducing the use, and choosing to reuse is the best way to lessen plastic,” Flores added.

With the ICC coming up in September, DCRM hopes the occasion will encourage the community to lessen the individual consumption of single-use plastic.

Businesses are also encouraged to adopt more sustainable practices through the Garapan Clean Water Campaign. Centralized in the Garapan area, the campaign works with businesses in that area to sign up to be a reef-friendly business or property.

Businesses are asked to pledge to follow two or three sustainable actions at a time, like serving straws only upon request or using paper or bamboo straws.

Janice Anne Castro, Coastal Resource Management director, hopes that the CNMI business community will make that transition to be plastic-free.

“We know that it’s a little bit [costlier], but then it’s also being aware that our land can only accommodate so much trash right now. If it doesn’t end up in the landfill, they would end up in the nearest body of water, which to us is really close,” Castro added.

For those interested in joining the International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 21, sign up at or contact Flores at

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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