Is this your trash?

Meghan Larson is working in San Fernando, Philippines on community solid waste management programs

This past weekend as I made my way down to the beach to enjoy the first few hours of daylight and a quiet walk along the beach I was shocked to discover the state of the shoreline. In five months here I have seen the beach in Urbiztondo under go many transformations as it has been battered by storm surges and typhoons, however the shock this weekend was the discovery of what the latest storm had washed ashore… piles and piles of trash!

Where did all this trash come from? After speaking with a few locals I quickly discovered that this is a common occurrence after a big storm. So I did the only thing I could think to do… I rolled up my sleeves and did my best to pick up as much trash as possible before the tides washed it all back out to sea.

Here in San Juan a local group of surfers, and concerned citizens/business owners have joined together to form Green Zinc a local initiative that put trash bins on the beach and provided the Municipality with a garbage truck the San Juan Beach Resort Association pays the costs of running and manning the truck and the local community, led by the La Union Surf Club, maintains the beach. But do they really? It’s a huge job that a small group like that can’t seem to stay on top of (no matter how hard they try!).

So I ask you “Is this your trash?”  With current world population estimated at 6.8 billion people that’s 6.8 billion people generating waste daily! And all that waste has to go somewhere. Beach clean-ups, although necessary, are sort of like a band-aid solution, completely useless we work concurrently at changing people’s attitudes towards littering.

And that alone is no small task.

What can you do? Take ownership! The answer to the problem starts with all of us as individuals. Learn how to properly dispose of your waste. Look for alternative disposal options such as re-use, and recycling and compost whenever possible. Because I find it hard to believe that anyone wants to see our ocean’s used as the world’s largest landfill.

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Sustainable Cities International is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Operating since 1993, the mission of Sustainable Cities is to catalyze action on urban sustainability with cities around the world. We work by connecting and mobilizing people through the process of co-creating. We facilitate a thriving, international network of cities that act as urban laboratories: adopting, testing and improving on innovations. Ideas are accelerated through sharing of experience and cities are making transformational change a reality
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