Saint Lucians urged to take responsibility for garbage problem

It is the home of two resorts: The Landings and Sandals Grande, and a place where hundreds of Saint Lucians recreate every week. It is also the “original” home of Saint Lucia Jazz. But a group of concerned Saint Lucians recently discovered the causeway leading to Pigeon Island and the surrounding beaches are fast becoming, like most of Saint Lucia, a place where indiscriminate garbage disposal and littering is the norm.

“We all have a responsibility to keep Saint Lucia clean and beautiful and this is one thing we cannot blame the authorities for,” Evelyn Paul, one of the concerned, told the STAR following a clean-up at Pigeon Point on Tuesday February 2. “The initial cleanup was successful. However, this was merely the first step to resolving the epidemic trash problem in and around the Pigeon island area and the rest of Saint Lucia,” Paul said.

(Left) Recreational spots at Pigeon Island strewn with litter. (Right) Bags of garbage collected at Pigeon Island on Tuesday piled mountain high!

(Left) Recreational spots at Pigeon Island strewn with litter. (Right) Bags of garbage collected at Pigeon Island on Tuesday piled mountain high!

According to the volunteer who worked with a small group on Tuesday, during their clean-up they were alarmed to discover that just out of sight in some of the undeveloped land lay a festering toxic waste dump mountain. “We couldn’t even begin to tackle it with our small crew so we will seek the necessary channels to get some urgent help in its removal,” Paul stated..

According to her, many such other dumping grounds can be found all around the island and are a perfect breeding ground for the mosquitoes that are spreading the Zika virus throughout the region. “We simply cannot afford this additional catastrophe,” Paul lamented. Additionally, the small beach on the opposite side of Sandals, which is frequented primarily by locals, was teeming with trash for as far as the eye could see when the team arrived on Tuesday.

“The sobering fact is that the work is just beginning and we need to move forward with our goal which includes, but is not limited to, placing bins near the beaches, surveillance cameras to detect violators of illegal dumping and NCA legal signage stating the codes and violation fines for offenders as well as enforcement, which will, of course, be a deterrent,” Paul explained.

Awareness is key and with exposure of their efforts through the media and a social media campaign which will start soon, the group plan is to “bring this unhealthy and unsightly issue to the public’s attention.” Evelyn Paul and her team want to thank SLASPA, Saint Lucia National Trust, Gros Islet MP Emma Hippolyte and Gros Islet Mayor Alison King who came on board to assist in the effort.

“It takes a village and I have no doubt we will succeed. What I ask is that we move on this quickly as we do not have time to waste,” Paul cautioned. This weekend the plan is to tackle a river in Laborie at the point where it meets the sea, which Evelyn Paul describes as magical. “It is really a beautiful place but we are slowly noticing some garbage there so we want to clear that up and place a sign there,” she said.

The group is hoping that every single person can take responsibility for their surroundings, their community and Saint Lucia as a whole by disposing of garbage properly, by educating others about the proper practices and by alerting the authorities where there are problems of indiscriminate garbage disposal which pose a threat to our land, rivers and beaches.

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