‘Adoptacoastline’ continues its quest to keep local beaches clean

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Kenicia Francis

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World Environment Day, celebrated every year June 5th, is a day dedicated to raising awareness and acting on pressing environmental issues. 

It serves as a platform for individuals, communities, and governments to come together and work towards a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world. 

It also encourages people to take responsibility for the planet and promote initiatives that can help protect the environment for future generations. 

In recognition of this event, Observer is highlighting a local environmental organisation dedicated to protecting the island’s beaches.

Adopt A Coastline is a group committed to safeguarding coastlines and marine ecosystems by allowing its members to “take care of that beach just like you would adopt a child,” explained Kaiesha Joseph, the group’s Youth Steward/Ambassador. 

They work towards promoting marine conservation and raising awareness about the importance of safeguarding our oceans. 

Their efforts often involve organising beach clean-ups, educational programmes, and advocating for policies that support coastal conservation.

When a coastline is “adopted” by a member, they take care of it by placing bins on the beach that are changed weekly. If multiple members live near the same beach, there’s a roster for bin changes. If only one person lives there, that person takes care of it. 

“We would have regular cleanups, let’s say twice a month in that area, probably for a year or two depending on how much that individual can handle. We also try to ensure that persons who are coming to the beach are doing the same thing because it makes no sense to consistently clean a beach and then it’s always dirtied again. That’s the reality, but at the end of the day we try to have a conversation with the local persons around that area to encourage them to keep the beaches clean,” she explained.

Joseph got started with the company after she saw, “a flier from Adopt A Coastline saying that they’re going to clean up Johnson’s Point Beach with Sunshine Home For Girls. “I wanted to get involved in that way because I had an interest, growing interest in marine life and you know beautifying the nation and so I thought that was an impactful way to start,” she said.

She was encouraged by the director of Adoptacoastline Kat Byles to become a mentor.

“She was saying to me ‘you can be a mentor to them, you can always come, and you can speak to them even if we’re not doing the cleanup’. That’s something that I honestly had within myself because I’m also a youth parliamentarian. I have been a member of the National Youth Parliament for over three years, so reaching out to younger individuals has always been something that I’ve been doing. But Kat was the one who told me, ‘this is something we also want to do, we want to be able to have our younger stewards be mentored by older ones’. In that sense we have a solid foundation for these stewards not only on an environmental aspect but holistically.” she explained.

Joseph recently attended the Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) Conference on behalf of the organisation.

“I must say that was a tremendous experience for me, I’ve been able to connect with different environmentalists from across the globe. I was able to make a remark at the conference as well, and from there I got quite a few positive feedback.’ she said.

Byles explained, “Adopt-a-Coastline is community coastal stewardship in Antigua and Barbuda. That means that we’re removing all the litter, all the marine debris and we’re working with communities to replant and nourish the coastlines so we can safeguard against erosion. We can restore the green belt for the endangered leatherback and hawksbill turtles and while we’re doing that, reconnect with nature so that we are getting back into a healthier way of being.”

She also spoke about a recent beach cleanup at the Valley Church beach, “So, the Valley Church Beach cleanup on Sunday was really inspired by the community asking to clean up a beach which is, what can we say, filthy. Kamya from the Bolans netball team initiated it. I met her and they were very keen to get involved. So, it took place because of her. In just an hour and a half, 16 volunteers removed 50 bags of 24-gallon bags of trash, lots of debris and there were lots of diapers, condoms, sanitary towels, pants, clothing, plastic bottles, takeaway, you know, all of that.”

Byles also explained that Adoptacoastline started in 2009 by Jennifer Meranto, the environmental artist. She came to the island as a visitor, fell in love with it, and decided to stay. 

While hiking, she noticed all the marine debris and trash along the trails, so to reduce her plastic footprint, she began removing the trash. 

Byles got involved in 2018 as a volunteer, taking care of Crabbe Hill Beach.

She also shared, “one interestingly disturbing fact, but it just makes you sit up and pay attention is, they are now finding plastic trash in our bodies. They found it in the placentas when mothers give birth. They found plastic in men’s testicles. We’re becoming trash. The more trash we leave on the beach, the more it breaks down into the soil, into the ocean, into the animals eating it, seafood eating it, and then it’s making its way into our bodies when we eat them.

“Every time people throw their trash out onto the roadside or leave their condoms or baby’s diapers on the beach, it’s literally going into our ecosystem and into us. So, we really want to change that cycle.”

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