by Margot White Sunday, April 30
We were proud to sponsor this year's annual beach clean-up in St. Croix, held on Earth Day. Organized by Ona Alpert, one of our own customers, the non-profit group Grapetree Area Property Owner's Association (GAPOA) gathers each year to clear trash from beaches in St. Croix. Ona tells us the trash issue in the area is out of control. She says full bags of garbage, tires and scraps are dumped - even in places where trash receptacles are readily available.
The GAPOA wants people to learn that oceans are in serious trouble as hundreds of millions of trash are dumped into them each year. There is 40 times more plastic than plankton in the ocean, which is terrible for many reasons including speeding up acidification of the seas to breeding problems with whales.
After reading this article about Oxybenzone and its impacts on coral reefs, Ona was inspired to educate her group about the importance of choosing a reef-safe sunscreen.
We had a lot of questions for the group about their day - here's what the team reported:
1. How many people attended the 2017 Beach Clean-up? There were about 30 volunteers.
2. How long did it take your team? We met at 9am. Some started early to avoid the heat of the sun and brought their own bags, gloves, etc. Some stayed late because certain beaches needed more work than others, but most wrapped up around noon.
3. Total weight of trash collected? 1.57 tons - which is actually an improvement from last year which was 2.9 tons!
4. What was the strangest thing you found? Anything on Smuggler's Beach, from the burnt out car (police were called to remove as they thought it was crime related). Also found was a stage someone used for a birthday party and left it behind, and a toilet "enclosure." We found an abandoned boat on Grapetree beach that needed to be cut up in order to remove. The rest was the typical plastic bottles, fishing lines, sheet metal and tires...
5. What was the most common thing you picked up? Plastic bottles. Totally.
6. Has there been any sea life impacted by the waste? While I have not personally witnessed any injured turtle or bird, statistics are that annually 86% of sea turtles are affected by marine litter and 100,000 birds die from it. In addition, coral polyps are affected by microscopic plastic and believe it or not, boats can be damaged by sea trash and discarded fishing nets.
In April 2017, a plastic bag ban went into effect for all of the US Virgin Islands.
Bravo, GAPOA and good luck at next year's clean-up! We think Mother Earth must be cracking a little smile.