Here’s to living a trashy life in San Pedro, Belize

Posted on Updated on

Our mighty Saturday morning crew from the Phoenix Resort, plus San Pedro Councilwoman Flora Ancona. The Angela Maya saying on the wall of the Blue Water grill is: "
Our mighty Saturday morning cleanup crew from the Phoenix Resort, plus San Pedro Councilwoman Flora Ancona. The Maya Angelou quote behind us on the wall of the Blue Water grill is: “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better,  do better.”

There are so many great things to do here on Ambergris Caye and I don’t think picking up other people’s trash is high up on anyone’s list.

And yet, many of us do find ourselves doing exactly that from time to time.

I’ve written so often about the First Friday Tres Cocos Trash Pick-up group that you might think that’s all I do. Truth is, I am quite fond of this bunch. They are neighbors and friends and island visitors who willingly give up some time to make the first stretch north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge look nice, for a day or two.

It doesn’t last but we keep coming out swinging . . .  swinging out trash sticks and garbage bags.

Starting our walk down the beach on Saturday morning with the Phoenix Resort crew.
Starting our walk down the beach on Saturday morning with the Phoenix Resort crew.

This group also includes the wonderful people (mostly you, my dear readers) who have donated gloves, bags, trash pickup sticks and cash to our cause. You can’t always be here but every volunteer who is spared an aching back thanks you profusely!

And now there is another civic-minded group which thanks you: the Phoenix Resort’s Saturday morning beach clean-up crew.

My diving gear bag has temporarily become a caddy for pickup trash sticks. Have sticks, will travel ......
My diving gear bag has temporarily become a caddy for pickup trash sticks. Have sticks, will travel ……

Yesterday, I brought a bunch of our pickup sticks down to the beach in front of the Phoenix and passed them out to volunteers. After hardly having to stoop once between the Phoenix and the Blue Water Grill, the verdict was unanimous: No aching backs!

The Phoenix group is special on the island. They gather EVERY Saturday on the beach and take the long walk south to Blue Water, picking up trash from the previous night’s waterfront festivities. They are a nice complement to the San Pedro Town crew which rakes and cleans the waterfront daily. They return by way of Middle and Front streets, picking up loose trash as they return to home base.

Because they are out there every Saturday, the crew often consists of Phoenix staff, although some Saturday’s have seen upwards of 30 volunteers. They have been at it for more than a year, too. Yesterday, I joined the crew, as did San Pedro Town Councilor Flora Ancona.

Both Councilwoman Ancona and I were a little early so we sat by the pool and commiserated about the heartache of children and grandchildren living far away in the states. She also said that she often wanted to come join the trash cleanup campaigns but a bad back prevented her from joining in. I happily presented her with the first trash pick-up stick of the day. She too was a pickup stick fan by the end of the morning.

Some of the town workers on the beach stopped us to ask about the sticks. What a difference they could make for town workers!

This was our own Tres Cocos crew on the first Friday of May. You've got to love the enthusiasm! From donations, we now have a trash pick-up stick for nearly every volunteer --- and many many ache-free backs thank you!
This was our own Tres Cocos crew on the first Friday of May. You’ve got to love the enthusiasm! From donations, we now have a trash pick-up stick for nearly every volunteer — and many many ache-free backs thank you!

Anyone who has walked by the Phoenix along the beach knows that they have one of the best maintained “front yards” on the island.  What is surprising is how much trash there is in front of so many businesses as we walked down the beach. Not where the water meets the beach, which town workers keep pretty clean. It is the space right in front of the businesses where straws, bottle caps, paper napkins, plastic cups and the like accumulates in bushes and under steps.

Interesting solution to "roaming" trash barrels" from Caye Caulker -- barrels are attached to galvanized steel pipe frames and holes are drilled into the bottoms of the cans for drainage.
Interesting solution to “roaming” trash barrels” from Caye Caulker — barrels are attached to galvanized steel pipe frames and holes are drilled into the bottoms of the cans for drainage.

Frankly, the waterfront would look a lot more appealing if these restaurants and bars simply took care of their own front yards. What would it take? A staffer or two might take 10 minutes to improve the grounds. As for aesthetics — supplemental sand, paint and plantings  — that is a whole other story for another day.

Sure, it is town property, but taking some pride and personal responsibility would make the beachfront a whole lot less shabby.

That’s all I’m saying on that.

I’ll be back at the Phoenix next Saturday if you’d like to join us. It is a nice bunch and they are doing a terrific job, week in and week out.

I’ll bet there are other cleanup groups like this on the island. I heard that the new Rotary Club recently did a cleanup around a local elementary school and that there is an active group at the sound end of the island. Are there others that deserve a little #islandlove?

Councilor Ancona talked passionately about getting schools involved and parents. And maybe the many churches on the island, I chimed in. If cleaning up your neighborhood isn’t doing God’s work, I don’t know what is. Think about it: If every church on the island, sent its people out to clean up a neighborhood for an hour every Sunday, we’d have a trash free island in, oh, I don’t even want to guess how long it would take.

Recently emptied trash cans await their return to various locations around Central Park in San Pedro Town on Saturday morning.
Recently emptied trash cans await their return to various locations around Central Park in San Pedro Town on Saturday morning.

Councilor Ancona said repeatedly, it is the school children who will lead us to change the trashy culture. And she is so right. Kids are learning more and more about island love, environmental protection and personal stewardship — and the healthy environment that comes from a trash-free neighborhood.

Sometimes, it is hard to believe that people will ever stop tossing trash on the beach or roadside — visitors and locals alike. But every once in a while you see a kid toss a drink bottle or wrapper into a can or admonish a parent for dropping a Styrofoam dish on the ground and you think, yeah, it will happen.

We call it #islandlove.

And it is real.

Here’s a late addition to the column for Reef Week:

Get your garabage bags ready on Tuesday May 17th @ 8:30 am, and lets clean up our coastline...all trash bags will compiled at the municipal dock!
Get your garbage bags ready on Tuesday May 17th @ 8:30 am, and lets clean up our coastline…all trash bags will compiled at the municipal dock!

 

 

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Here’s to living a trashy life in San Pedro, Belize

    harry bonnell said:
    May 15, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    just think how many plastic and glass bottles would never be thrown away, or would be picked up by kids, if there was a nickle refund deposit on each bottle

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      May 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      The Bowen and Bowen bottles do carry a deposit, but you are so right about all the plastic and other bottles that get tossed so easily.

      Like

    Susan said:
    May 15, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Let’s follow Hawaii and other islands that have banned plastic bags and some are working on banning all styrofoam and plastic straws too! I just read an article that I think it was…Turks & Caicos (?) just banned plastic bags and is planning on expanding the ban to include styrofoam and straws too! I’m returning in June, do you need more supplies?

    Like

    Bruce said:
    May 15, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Key is to change the culture….. Starting with the kids. Let’s not penalize everyone (ban this and that) and do the hard work of teaching the children

    Like

    jack g said:
    May 15, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Great idea Bruce, your so right!!!!

    another is to just stop enabling people to litter xtra cups straws lids, less is best stop offering throwaways! businesses your bottom line will thank you!!, towns people will love you!! AC will embrace you!!

    …..excuse me, did you drop something!! just sayin!!

    Like

    Emily said:
    May 15, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Kudos to all who participate in this effort! There has been much positive change since we left the island in 2013, and we applaud the hard work. If we were still there, we’d be right there with you picking up trash — used to do it ourselves in our “hood”, but it really does take a village, and a very consistent approach. I totally agree that the businesses should clean up in front of their own shops!

    Like

    Jeff Drew said:
    May 16, 2016 at 8:47 am

    I think the efforts of the pick up crews are paying dividends. I saw less trash this winter than last and I seldom saw people throwing trash this winter. I also had several locals thank me for picking up litter. I strongly second the notion of working with the schools and the kids. They already have a far better awareness than their parents and it may not be far from that critical mass when littering is shunned and shameful. Why not work with the schools to have 1 class at a time participate in the monthly pick up and use that time to encourage them to spread the word. Anyhow, kudos to all who are actively making a difference.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s