Better Beaches for Jamaicans

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 Contributed by Sherianne Hart 

It’s the weekend and a beautiful, sunny day; the perfect weather for going to the beach! If you’re a real beach lover, like most Jamaicans, then keeping them clean should be important to you. Reducing the amount of garbage you generate at the beach will help to guarantee many more beautiful beach days for years to come. 

You may have heard of the term BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle); well, many of Jamaica’s most beautiful beaches allow us to BYOP (Bring Your Own Picnic). If done right, a beach picnic with friends and family can be a lot of fun and VERY satisfying! But depending on your approach, beach picnics also have the potential to generate a lot of garbage - fast food packaging, beverage bottles, snack wrappers - which often gets left behind. 

If garbage is left carelessly discarded on the beach, it not only makes the beach look terrible, it affects the plants and animals that live on the beach and the people that depend on the beach for their livelihoods; it can even end up in the sea - where it is much more difficult to clean up. Even if you put your garbage in a bin on the beach, many beaches in Jamaica don’t have regular garbage collection. In these cases, garbage bins often overflow and litter the beach or garbage is burnt – which is not good for the environment or the health of those nearby.

 

Rocky Point, Clarendon (garbage)

Rocky Point, Clarendon

 

So how can we enjoy our Jamaican beaches while reducing the amount of garbage we create when we visit? Here’s some things to consider when planning a low waste beach picnic:

1. Bring your picnic in reusable bags. With the recent ban of single-use plastic bags, all Jamaicans should have a few reusable bags readily available by now. Package your beach picnic in the reusable bags you take to the supermarket, or if you’re a frequent beach visitor, you may prefer to source larger more durable bags which can hold more for your beach trip. 

reusable-bag

Reusable bags made from canvas are a must have for a beach picinc

 

2. Skip paper bags at restaurants. Sometimes beach trips are decided on at the last minute, leaving us with little time to pack a picnic; and sometimes we just don’t want the bother of waking up early to cook for our outing. Fast food is popular at the beach, whether purchased on the way or from a seaside restaurant. Most restaurants now package food in paper bags; but paper is not ideal for a day by the sea, and its use also has a negative impact on the environment. Save yourself the hassle of soggy, torn paper bags by taking food from restaurants to the beach in reusable bags. 

3. Bring food from home in reusable plastic containers. Don’t forget to package any snacks and food you make at home in reusable plastic containers. Just as with reusable bags, you can also ask restaurants to pack food in reusable plastic Tupperware© containers – they often welcome the opportunity to save on packaging costs. It’s as easy as adding reusable containers to your list of things to pack for your beach trip.

 

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Package your beach picnic in a reusable container to reduce waste from food packaging

 

4. Use reusable cups, plates and utensils. Do you have a reusable cup or water bottle? Bring it to the beach! Not only will it reduce the amount of garbage you generate at your picnic, ice will last for a lot longer than in single use plastic cups. When it comes to plates and forks, don’t bring your grandma’s breakfront china or disposables. Plates and utensils just need to be of good enough quality to be reused rather than thrown away. Don’t forget serving spoons if necessary! When it comes to single-use plastic, reduce it whenever you can. #reduceyouruse #walkwithyufork

 

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Reusable bottles or cups reduce the amount of single-use plastic you are left with at the end of your cleanup

 

5. Don’t forget to freeze ice overnight. This tip takes some extra effort; however, it will save money and reduce waste from plastic ice packages. Plan ahead and make some extra ice at home for your upcoming beach trip. 

6. Don’t forget garbage bags. Be sure to bring a garbage bag. At the end of the day, take it home with you. If you recycle plastic at home, bring an extra bag for recyclables so that you can separate any unavoidable plastic waste from your other picnic garbage. Remember to tell those with you at the beach, which bag is for which type of waste. 

7. Stage a mini beach cleanup. While we all hope to arrive at a spotless beach, this is unfortunately not always the case. Garbage on beaches in Jamaica is often washed down to the coast from inland via nearby rivers and gullies; it is also sometimes left behind by inconsiderate beach users. Garbage can also travel by sea hundreds of miles from other parts of the coast (or other countries!) and is washed up on shore by the tide. Before settling down to your beach picnic, pick up any garbage you see lying around. Also remember to do a final sweep before leaving the beach, to make sure you haven’t left any of your own garbage behind.

 

JET Beach Cleanup 2018-2354

JET's 2018 Beach Cleanup along the Palisadoes in Kingston

 

With these tips, you’re all set to enjoy the beach and reduce your environmental footprint.

Stay tuned for more information on how to enjoy the beach and keep things eco-friendly in my next post. 

Remember! A day at the beach can make a world of difference!  

 

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