It was a clean sweep.
From the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge to just short of the turnoff for the Palapa Bar, nearly 60 people picked the roadside clean of trash on Friday morning.
The volunteers were split nearly evenly between a Houston mission group, Adventure Sports Ministry, and friends and neighbors from the neighborhood.
The “locals” showed up ready to rumble with homemade spear sticks. Carmen Arenal from Coco Locos pulled up with a box of heavy duty trash bags and some spare rubber gloves. (Carmen also bought two cases of chilled water from Village Market to distribute as the day heated up.)
Timing is everything and today happened to be the day that the town trash truck makes its foray to the north. As we were wrapping up the day, with mounds of trash bags at several spots along the road, the town workers rumbled by and picked it all up to take it to the landfill.
I am in awe of the timing of all of this. The crew from Adventure Sports Ministry had been planning a roadside clean up for today all along. When we heard about it — my neighbors and I have been talking about doing this very thing — word swept from Facebook page to Facebook page.
After that, it was just all about showing up, joining forces and making the unsightly piles of trash disappear.
Not that this is an easy thing to day. Trust me, there was a lot of trash.
Rumor has it that one volunteer scored a $20 BZD from the roadside for his efforts. (I myself found a $5 BZD alongside the road while bicycling a few weeks ago. So, hey, it is out there …) Maybe next time we’ll plant a few $20’s along the way …
People were actually talking excitedly about a next time, and the consensus seems to be to attack the shoreline where the plastic is piled up thick and high.
Feliz Bar‘s Mike Kuun astutely observed that the litter we were picking up was really First World trash. Indeed, most of it was plastic bottles, Styrofoam food containers and snack bags.
Will the road stay clean? Not for long. Belize is only beginning to develop a culture that is aware of the consequences of trash and littering. But it is happening. In the schools, kids learn about taking responsibility for the community. The San Pedro Town Council has made liter cleanup an important component of the current administration.
When Deputy Mayor Gary Greif heard that we were interested in organizing a local cleanup effort, he contacted me before I could reach him, to volunteer the town’s services and encourage the effort. That is progress.
There has been a regular volunteer community cleanup south of town for a number of years and recently The Phoenix resort has spearheaded a Saturday morning beach sweep.
A clean Ambergris Caye is within reach.
Some more photos from today’s roadside cleanup:
And here is what some stretches of the road looked like after nearly two hours of back breaking labor!