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Your trash, your responsibility

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On Saturday, Feb. 6, I and four others cleaned up the garbage at the Japanese lighthouse on Navy Hill. We spent four hours collecting all the garbage from within, on, and around the grounds of the lighthouse, also using machetes to cut back shrubs blocking the main entrance, and cutting grass in front of the interpretive sign at the front, along with collecting some debris from Soudelor, and putting it all on the roadside in front of the lighthouse. The mayor’s office had kindly agreed to have it all picked up on the following Monday, which was done early that morning.

We filled six extra large garbage bags, about the same number of smaller bags, plus the debris. On that day, no garbage was visible; sadly it was not to remain that way for long. Unfortunately, I was unable to persuade the mayor’s office to have a garbage can placed there, along with weekly pickup. The spiral stairs to the top had become very hazardous with all the garbage that had piled up.

Since I live close by the lighthouse, I have watched many sunsets from there, and enjoyed the great view of Saipan that it presents. I see many tourists and locals enjoying it as well. A day or two after our cleanup, sitting there with two people that had worked on the cleanup, we almost got hit on the head with an empty drink container tossed from the top of the lighthouse; presenting the group of kids and teenagers with their trash, an argument ensued between us and the older kids, and both parties left angry, which I immediately wished I could apologize for.

For one week I went almost daily to clean up the small amount of trash that showed up, trying to retain the work that we’d done there.

Watching the sunset there eight days later, I witnessed two separate groups of people get back in their cars, roll down their windows and throw out their trash, and drive away. Learning my lesson about confronting people about their poor behavior, I did and said nothing, but at that point I gave up cleaning up after these slobs. None of these people were tourists.

This lighthouse was built in 1934, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 (according to Wikipedia). It deserves some respect, as does the whole of Saipan, which is not a place that seems to be cared for by a lot of the people who live here; there is garbage just about everywhere you look on this island. No, garbage, and the lighthouse, is not the greatest concern after Soudelor, there are many more pressing issues. One of those is tourism, which is what pays for most people to live on Saipan. If I was a tourist I would be disgusted by how many of us treat this island (“protect our reef, protect our future,” what reef? It’s dead. “Best Sunshine”/casinos are good for Saipan? But those are other subjects), I know I am as a resident. To the people who dump their trash anywhere on this island, when you bought the stuff, whatever it is, it became your responsibility to dispose of it properly, whether there’s a garbage can or not. Everybody needs to do their part to retain what beauty Saipan has left.

William Boggess
Navy Hill

William Boggess

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