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Beach Clean Up

Today we would like to talk about a different kind of subject, one that is very near to our hearts. When you visit the beach, we know that you expect to find water, sand, shells, maybe a few shore birds, and hopefully lots of sun. What you probably don’t want to find is lots of trash. But what happens when you do find trash and why is it there? Trash is a complex issue. Some is (unfortunately) left by careless beach goers, but much is also brought in by the tides, large swell, rivers or heavy rain. The amount of waste buildup is especially evident in areas which lack a public way to collect and dispose of garbage and recyclables. With no access to a public garbage dump or recycling center, trash is often burned, dumped on the street, or washed away into drains which lead to rivers, and then deposited onto our beaches. That’s why it’s so common to find odd items like shoes, bits of tile, bottle caps, and other household “stuff” on the beaches. Outside of major cities in Panama, very few rural communities have a trash pickup programs or drop-off areas. Even where there is access, the landfills or garbage dumps are not designed to handle the amount of trash being generated. Our volunteers can’t solve the big problem, but we can contribute to the collection and proper disposal during our trash cleanup events. In Cambutal we also suspect trash even floats in after being tossed from the many large shipping vessels en route to the Panama Canal. As beach use is increasing among locals and visitors, keeping our beaches clean has become ever more important to the Cambutal community. Surf Club Cambutal, along with Hotel Playa Cambutal, the local Cambutal school, and community members, organize semi-regular beach and road-side trash clean-ups, as well as arrange special days when a dump truck is ordered to pick up larger unwanted items, like old refrigerators, washers or other household items. Even with the combined efforts of our many volunteers, trash is still a local problem for us. The good news is, you can help! The first step is education (thanks for reading this!) and a willingness to pitch in; if you make or bring garbage to the beach (food wrappers, containers, straws, napkins, fireworks, beach toys) take it with you when you leave. If you see trash, be a good beach-friend and pick it up and dispose of it in a trash can. And if you see the volunteers during a clean-up, feel free to help us out, or just say “Hola".

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