Community volunteers from all over the CNMI spent their morning last Saturday, Sept. 18, to “connect and collect”—to come together for the 2021 International Coastal Cleanup celebration, organized globally by Ocean Conservancy and here on island by the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.
For more than 35 years, communities all over the world have been coming together to pick up trash, and collect data on the types of trash collected, which then helps scientists and researchers to find ways to mitigate and solve the world’s trash problem. For this year, the theme was “Connect and Collect.”
In an interview with Saipan Tribune, BECQ’s Coastal Resources Management acting director Rich Salas thanked all the participants for the great turnout, adding that they hope to see the ICC continue and keep gaining momentum.
“BECQ reached out to community members to adopt certain portions of the island to conduct beach cleanups and we record all the data and submit that to the Ocean Conservancy so that we can record what is being collected from our coastlines internationally,” he added.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about promoting stewardship, and being more mindful of our community and our resources here, because our resources are vital to our existence.”
When asked if there is anything he would ask legislators to help with the island’s trash problem, Salas said it would be for more services to be provided to supplement the solid waste management industry, in order for the community to have access to more resources that can help them manage wastes properly.
Last April, Reps. Richard Lizama (D-Saipan) and Leila Staffler (D-Saipan) initiated a household trash dropoff in Kagman to help the residents easily throw their trash, particularly those who find it hard to get to the Transfer Station in Lower Base, or at the Marpi Landfill. The dropoff program, according to Staffler, showed how much waste transfer stations are needed in the area.
CRM is still processing data for this year’s ICC. However, data collected from last year’s coastal cleanup showed cigarette butts as the most collected trash, followed by plastic bottle caps, and beverage cans.
Aside from the International Cleanup, BECQ also holds beach cleanups every first Saturday of every month via their Cleanup Brigade. For more information, contact them at 664-8500/1.