Earlier this year, I brought up the idea of wanting to do something to combat plastics in the ocean. Our team’s solutions ranged from an idealistic large-scale and long-term program of banning plastic bags in groceries to simple everyday solutions such as refusing the use of plastic straws.
As always, my Dream Team’s connections and skills enable me to make my ideas into realities. Vince set up a meeting with Ateneo de Zamboanga’s SACSI Office – the team who does the yearly coastal cleanup efforts. Eventually, the partnership was formed and I am M.A.D. Zamboanga Dream Team became in charge of the promotions and securing the participation of Triton Dive Group.
I love how my advocacy leads me to meet like-minded people who are sincerely passionate about creating solutions. From this activity, I met Sir Brian – a political science professor whose opinions on the current issues of EJK echo mine, and Harvey – an entrepreneur and diver who is actively involved in protecting the seas. I was also surprised to see participation from the people I never pegged for as the volunteer type. What’s more, when different people each with individual personalities come together for the same cause, a bond instantly forms. Just beautiful.
At the end of the day, we collected 141.5 kilos of trash in just a couple of hours scouring the beach. The trash which came mostly from mainland Zamboanga City was carried by the tide and got stuck in the beaches of the Great Sta. Cruz Island. Alarmingly, the majority of the trash was plastic bottles and styrofoam from fishermen’s nets. We seriously have to think of an alternative floatation device fisherfolks could use to replace styrofoam.
The Game of Trash: Hugot Dagat is an initiative led by Ateneo de Zamboanga’s SACSI Office in partnership with I am M.A.D. (Making A Difference), City Government of Zamboanga, DENR 9, Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences & Technology, STI, and AdZU Senior High. It was done in celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup Day – a simultaneous activity held all over the world every September 16. If you want to join or conduct a cleanup in your area, please check out this site: ICC Philippines.
Here are some well-made infographics about trash in the ocean:
You are not limited to one cleanup per year. As much as possible, this should be a regular activity – preferably monthly. Trash identification and data gathering are also important as this can influence the policy-making decisions of our local government regarding regulation of consumption and disposal. Water pollution is a serious problem. While the activity is fun to do with friends, please consider the impact of our personal consumption and let’s try to curb our reliance on single-use plastics.
Individual efforts may seem futile at first, but take it to heart and your dedication to it WILL influence minds.
EDIT: I noticed that months after actively advocating for trash-free oceans, friends will associate me with plastic trash – in a good way. They’d tell me: “When I see plastic straws, I remember you and I feel guilty about using one.” One friend I met during a trip to Siargao even collected plastic bottles during her vacation and sent me a video telling me she did it for me. It was one of those heartwarming moments when you realize the power of social media in changing minds.