Volunteerism is alive in the Marianas!
The environmental movement is truly growing in the CNMI, with over a thousand volunteers joining this year’s International Coastal Cleanup celebration. We had over 1,500 volunteers—893 on Saipan, 532 on Rota, and 149 on Tinian—clearing up over 6,000 lbs of trash in 82 different locations all over the islands.
This is a big jump from last year’s number of volunteers, where collectively on all three islands, 971 participated in the world’s largest coastal cleanup event.
“Here in the CNMI, everywhere is considered a coastal area, whether it’s the sandy beaches of Micro Beach or the highest peak of Mt. Tapochau—which means every single piece of litter may eventually end up in our ocean,” ICC coordinator Colleen Flores said, in an interview with Saipan Tribune.
Through ICCs, and fighting ocean pollution firsthand, Flores added, thousands of pounds of trash are eliminated and prevented from harming the environment. Volunteers get to be citizen scientists for the day as they assist in collecting data on the types and volume of trash collected, through a universal form that they need to fill up as they pick up trash. In the CNMI, these forms are collected and processed by the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality’s Division of Coastal Resources Management—and the resulting data is sent to Ocean Conservancy, the international organizer of the cleanup event, to be used to help find solutions to the world’s ocean pollution problem.
“As a coastal community, we experience firsthand the effects of marine debris and climate change,” Flores said. “Unwanted plastic pieces from elsewhere in the world find their way onto our shores—as we can see in the western beaches on Saipan.”
The ICC coordinator also explained that plastic—its production, transportation, and disposal—contributes to the amount of greenhouse gases in our environment, which, in turn, causes climate change. As plastics break down into even smaller pieces, more greenhouse gases get released into our atmosphere.
“We must keep our environment clean in order to maintain the safety of our community, our public health, and our future generations. Every little bit matters. If we make a small change individually, we will make a massive difference collectively.”