Today we started on something we'd been wanting to do since before we moved to Ambergris Caye -- beach cleanup.  There have been some excellent organized efforts at trash cleanup here in the past with large teams of people, but we missed the last beach cleanup and didn't want to wait around for the next one.  Plenty of trash builds up between organized cleanups, so there is almost always work to be done.

For a variety of reasons, lots of (mostly) plastic trash washes up on the otherwise lovely beaches here.  I suspect some of it is dumped way out at sea by cruise ships and floats in, some is trash from neighboring countries that due to sea currents washes up here, and some is certainly dropped by people walking or riding bicycles on the beach, a very common form of transportation here on the island.  

There is no recycling on Ambergris Caye yet, unfortunately, and not nearly enough trash bins once you get outside San Pedro Town itself.  On a positive note, since glass beer and soda bottles are for-deposit, those DO get returned and do not end up on the beach, at least not for long.  There are plenty of enterprising locals who pick them up quickly to turn in for cash when they do get discarded.  So at least the trash that washes up on the beach is mostly lightweight and easy to haul away.

The beaches in front of resorts and condominium projects along the sea are raked clean of sea grass and have trash picked up daily by workers, but beaches in front of undeveloped properties are not cared for, and as a result, trash accumulates.  There are several stretches of beach just north of Chico Caribe that we see every time we ride our bikes or run north, and it makes us sad to see all the trash marring their beauty, so we decided to start working on them.  Once we make one pass through all three stretches, it will be much easier to keep trash picked up in the future.
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Hazile keeps our beach in tip-top shape here at Chico Caribe
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Here's the beach he cleans up and rakes nearly every day
Today we started on the furthest north and longest stretch of beach we plan to make part of our informal "adopt-a-beach" project.  You can see from the "before" photos some of the plastic trash mixed into the sea grass before we began.  And there are a lot of smaller bits you can't see in the photo.
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The stretch of beach we worked on today -- before the cleanup
It didn't take long to pick up the plastic on most of this rather long stretch, and it looked much better when we were finished.  In fact, we ran out of trash bags before we ran out of trash, and had to leave a small area at the south end of the beach unfinished, but we'll get back to it another day.  It doesn't take much bending over these days to get my fifty year-old back to barking, so this activity is best done in short bursts.
And the "after" shot:
Fortunately, a small effort can make a big difference, especially in a country like Belize, which has many fewer people and resources to go around than the United States.  We are so happy to be here and perhaps to help make the place we've fallen in love with just a little bit better than when we found it.
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This stretch of beach could use adopting too. It's just north of the White Sands Dive Shop and Journey's End.
12/14/2011 07:00:43 am

Great job Emily and Barry. It looks so much better and just a little time and effort can make such a big difference.

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12/14/2011 08:35:02 am

I also thank you! Deb and I have talked about doing the ae thing. Come end of March we will have our golf cart there with the dump bed and a pull behind cart to help u load up'

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BeBelize Emily
12/14/2011 09:35:14 am

Thanks to both of you. Bill, it would be great if the four of us could work together and use your cart for hauling. We could accomplish a lot more that way, but every little bit helps!

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Jim GUettler
12/14/2011 08:29:30 pm

Great idea! You need one of the "robotic" arm to reach down for the trash so you don't have to bend over so much.

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BeBelize Emily
12/14/2011 09:48:51 pm

Hi Jim! Great idea -- and actually I do have one of those long "picker-upper" things, from when I fractured my pelvis. It's a bit slow, but would certainly help when the back got to barking. Great to see you here, and hope you are doing well! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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12/14/2011 09:58:12 pm

You guys are awesome! Do you know how many people (myself included) have just walked by that and never even thought about doing what you did?

It's great you're not waiting around for an organized event but just getting out there and doing it. Good for you and San Pedro! The island is lucky to have you.

Sharon Hiebing

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BeBelize Emily
12/15/2011 12:11:35 am

Thanks Sharon! When we came down on vacation we were appalled at the trash on the beaches here as we'd never seen anything remotely like it in the US. We asked about how it got there and were told about cruise ships and currents bringing it from other countries. We realized, once we decided to buy a place here, that we couldn't do it all, but we could clean up little bits and pieces of it. It's such a small amount of work compared to the intense yard work we used to do at our former homes in the US, and makes such impact in how the beaches look. We're happy to be able to do it!

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dr mark
12/18/2011 01:22:25 am

great project! thank you!!
unfortunately i believe if you take a pic in a day or 7 it will have resemblance to the "before". we somehow need to stop mexico and the cruise ships from sending us their trash!
keep up the good works!
dr mark

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BeBelize Emily
12/18/2011 01:56:06 am

Thanks dr mark! This will definitely have to be an ongoing effort, not a one-time deal, and we knew that. The beach in the photos here has already gotten more plastic on it, but it's still much better than before we cleaned it. If we have time this afternoon we may do a second pass today.

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Jane O
12/18/2011 02:04:58 am

Great job, you two. Adopt a beach sounds like a good project to get started. Love the fact that you're jumping in there where you see the need.

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BeBelize Emily
12/18/2011 10:00:35 am

Thanks Jane! It really is our pleasure to help out here. It's such a simple thing to do.

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