For the sixth straight year, the Sandals Foundation spearheaded several cleanup events leading up to International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC Day), September 16. Over 420 volunteers turned out at the nine beach cleanup sites and ten underwater cleanup sites in the islands of Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Antigua and Barbados that were organized by the Foundation.
Amongst the Foundation’s team of volunteers in Saint Lucia were some 92 students and teachers from the Ciceron, Gros Islet and Sir Ira Simmons Secondary Schools and team members from nearby Sandals and Beaches Resorts. “Our volunteers did a great job again this year and we are especially proud of all the students who joined our teams,” said Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation which is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International. “We believe that we must educate our youngsters about proper waste management and its negative effects on our marine environment if we are ever going to make headway in ensuring cleaner, healthier seas for the future.”
Clarke added that by engaging young people, the Foundation hoped to inspire them to assist with the many environmental challenges that the Caribbean faces, including improper garbage disposal that leads to the need to have such cleanup events in the first place.
It was reported that approximately 7000 pounds of garbage was collected at the Sandals Foundation sites across the Caribbean, of which about 2000 pounds came from Saint Lucia. Counted amongst the items were plastic and glass bottles, clothes, household items (such as garden hoses and refrigerators), tyres, sand bags and oil drums. Millions of pounds of garbage are collected around the world every year on ICC Day, which is the largest one-day volunteer event in the world with more than 100 countries hosting events.
Participation on ICC Day is just one of many ways that the Sandals Foundation promotes environmental awareness and education in the communities where Sandals and Beaches Resorts operate in the Caribbean. The Foundation is also engaged in managing two marine sanctuaries and coral nurseries in Jamaica (Whitehouse and Boscobel) as well as funding others on the island, and in Saint Lucia. Other initiatives include projects that educate the public about the dangers of the invasive lionfish species, and projects that invest in turtle and conch conservation.