More than one way to clean up in Belize

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Part of the gang from our neighborhood who joined the roadside cleanup effort north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge this morning. This is around 9 a.m. and everyone is fresh and smiling and raring to go. We spent nearly two hours cleaning up and I'd venture everyone was exhausted but happy in the end.
Part of the gang from our neighborhood who joined the roadside cleanup effort north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge this morning. This is around 9 a.m. and everyone is fresh and smiling and raring to go. We spent nearly two hours cleaning up and I’d venture everyone was exhausted but happy in the end. Among the volunteers: Wayne McCrae, Edwin W. Sparks, Mike Kuun, Wendy Swanepoel, Rodney Cozby,Jamie Engledow Cozby, Juanece Messervy, Blair Messervy, Carmen Arenal, Linda J Rumney, Scott Barkhouse and Susan Traverse Barkhouse.

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.)

Ed and Micky with some of the Adventure Sports Ministry gang.
Ed and Micky Sparks with some of the Adventure Sports Ministry gang.

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.

Folks from Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash.
Folks from Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash.

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 …

Local ex-pats joined with  Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash beside the road north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge.
Local ex-pats , including Juanece and Blair Messervy,  joined with Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash beside the road north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge.

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.

How did I go film noir on this picture? Maybe that is how these kids felt after a long morning picking up trash!
How did I go film noir on this picture? Maybe that is how these kids felt after a long morning picking up trash!

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:

Folks from Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash.
Folks from Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash.
Folks from Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash.
Folks from Houston-based Adventure Sports Ministry haul in the trash.
End of the road for the expat cleanup crew. We finished up just short of the turnoff to the Palapa Bar, along the new road. These are some weary volunteers!
End of the road for the expat cleanup crew. We finished up just short of the turnoff to the Palapa Bar, along the new road. These are some weary volunteers!
Heading for home. Job well done!
Heading for home. Job well done!

 

And here is what some stretches of the road looked like after nearly two hours of back breaking labor!

One of several stacks of trash collected today during the roadside cleanup. The town's trash truck came by right on time to haul them all away.
One of several stacks of trash collected today during the roadside cleanup. The town’s trash truck came by right on time to haul them all away.

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11 thoughts on “More than one way to clean up in Belize

    Cheryl said:
    June 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    GREAT JOB! The pictures of the clean road are beautiful! We’re in on the next one for sure. Back on Tuesday!!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      Welcome back, Cheryl! I think we’re tackling the beach next time.

      Like

    Susan Watts said:
    June 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Looks fantastic! Wish I could have been there to help! If you are still doing it in September, we’ll be there gloves on ready to rumble! BUT we are going to the Palapa bar afterwards for a cold one or three!!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      We’ll never run out of trash before September, Susan!

      Like

    Linda Czestochowski said:
    June 12, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Just goes to show that if everyone makes a little effort, positive changes are possible! We absolutely loved our visit to Ambergris Caye this year, but were shocked by the amount of plastic and Styrofoam containers littering the “highway”. If “first world” luxuries are going to be part of the culture, responsible recycling has to come along for the ride. It’s such a beautiful slice of paradise and needs to be respected!! 🙂

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      Yes indeed. I think anti-littering is becoming a part of the community culture, but slowly. A new centralized mega landfill on the mainland is now open and the government is working out the process for transporting trash to it from all over Belize. It will include recycling!

      Like

    Bruce Krietsch said:
    June 12, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    good job. looks so much better. noticed down south lots of trash cans. maybe we should follow that model. cleaner south. Bruce

    >

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      June 12, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks, Bruce. Folks at the south end of the island are well organized — Neighborhood Watch, community clean-up and such things have been in effect for years. I imagine trash cans (colorful ones) will be a part of the landscape here someday. Soon, I hope!

      Like

    Miranda said:
    June 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Since my first visit to SP about five years ago, I have been concerned about all the styrofoam containers. That stuff never breaks down. And plastic bottles, as well. We should make an effort to find a substitute for the restaurants to pkg their goods in. Also, when you ask for water, you get a bottle of it. Why not fill up a glass? A change in culture is definitely in need. We need to decrease the garbage, THEN pick it up.

    Like

    Lynn said:
    June 12, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    So fantastic!! Thank you!!

    Like

    […] basking in the glow of a huge effort to clear the roadside of trash just north of the Sir Barry Bridge, only one week later the neighborhood tackled an especially unsightly […]

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