ST. CROIX — This past weekend, before the swimming and boating or even sunbathing on the shores began, dozens of volunteers across the territory joined millions around the world in celebrating Coastweeks International Coastal Cleanup and did their part to clean up coastlines and waterways around the islands.
Coastweeks is a program of The Ocean Conservancy with more than 100 countries participating. Events are coordinated to remove debris from marine areas and tally items collected according to type of debris. The data collected from each beach or coastal area is entered into the Coastweeks data for the year.
St. Croix Environmental Association Executive Director Jennifer Valiulis said the association put out a call for volunteers over the past few weeks and organized two separate clean up events for the kickoff of the weeks-long celebration that goes to the end of October.
She said the organization rallied about 20 volunteers from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the Southgate Coastal Reserve while they had just over a dozen volunteers to clean up Dorsch Beach from 10 a.m. to noon.
Valiulis said volunteers spread out far and wide along the coast and there was a lot of trash and debris pulled from the shoreline, beach and bushes at Southgate as volunteers hauled away close to 20 bags of trash. She added that people should take their trash with them when they use the beach to keep it clean and preserve the environment.
University of the Virgin Islands’ Marine Advisor Marcia Taylor coordinated the day’s cleanup event that was mainly carried out by volunteers who are students in the Marine Biology class at St. Croix Educational Complex. Students fanned out across the beach with trash bags, trash pickers, gloves and their debris tally cards to collect refuse left by people who use the beach or trash that was blown down from off the street.
Complex student Kristle Casey said the cleanup was a success as they collected, cans, bottles, paper, clothing and lots of plastics from the beach.
“We got a lot of trash, but most of what we got was plastics so as we collected each type of trash, we put it in the trash bag and wrote a mark next to it on the paper,” she said.
The Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service also coordinated the annual Coastweeks Cleanups from 9 a.m. to noon at Brewers Bay on St. Thomas.
Taylor said there is another cleanup scheduled at Columbus Landing on St. Croix 10 a.m. to noon on Oct. 2 and they are looking for volunteers. Additionally, she said all cleanup supplies and water are provided and community organizations, groups of friends and even families interested in organizing a cleanup can contact her at 340-692-4046 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.