Despite COVID-19, International Coastal Cleanup 2021 in Jamaica was a great success

Yes, there is always good environmental news to be had. This press release from the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is very encouraging. JET had some challenges, and it is commendable that they were able to achieve so much with the Congratulations to all! We press on…

A small group of volunteers from the Optimist Club of West Portland cleaning up Fishing Beach in Buff Bay, Portland on November 6, 2021. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

National Coordinator of International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) activities, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), is reporting that data tallying is well underway for International Coastal Cleanup 2021 activities, which took place in October and November this year. An estimated 2,700 volunteers from 116 local groups participated in ICC activities at 169 sites in every parish along Jamaica’s coastline. For 2021, JET took a new approach to cleanup activities for ICC in light of restrictions imposed by the Government of Jamaica due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ICC Day is typically a one-day volunteer event that takes place on the 3rd Saturday in September, however, in 2021 small cleanups were held between October 29 and November 14 following all COVID-19 protocols.

ICC volunteers from Jamaica Energy Partners collecting garbage at Sirgany Beach, Rockfort in East Kingston on November 6, 2021. This was the second week of ICC cleanups at this site. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

“ICC activities were originally scheduled for September; however, the decision was made to postpone cleanups until the number of COVID-19 cases was drastically reduced. The safety of everyone involved was our top priority”, said JET Programme Director, Lauren Creary. She continued: “Despite the change in plans, coordinators stayed committed to hosting their cleanups allowing JET to surpass our goal of attracting 100 local groups for ICC 2021.”

ICC volunteers from the Rotaract Club of UWI Mona collecting garbage along the Port Henderson Coastline in St. Catherine for International Coastal Cleanup. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

As national coordinators of ICC in Jamaica, groups register with JET to host their own cleanups across the island, with training and supplies from JET. Groups received cleanup kits, including necessary items for cleanups such as data cards gloves, garbage bags and reusable face masks. “This strategy of allowing groups to coordinate multiple cleanups over a period of three weeks meant that more garbage could be removed from beaches each week,” said Creary. The data collected from beach cleanup activities is used to create a National Summary Data Report for Jamaica which will be released to the public in early 2022. This information is also shared with key stakeholders such as the international coordinators of ICC, the Ocean Conservancy and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

This year’s ICC activities were made possible through the support of  longstanding donor, TEF, and our international ICC partners the Ocean Conservancy. In 2022, JET will continue public education around proper solid waste management practices in Jamaica.

Recycling Partners of Jamaica played their part in clean ups this year too! Here Chairman Dr. Damien King got busy in Kingston’s Sandy Gully (left) with members of the Eastwood Gardens Youth Club, back in July. “Their civic spirit was inspiring,” said Dr. King. (Photo: @RecyclingJA on Twitter)

3 thoughts on “Despite COVID-19, International Coastal Cleanup 2021 in Jamaica was a great success

  1. Hi Emma. I always question this word success in the clean up. Whilst it is great that more people are out to help.. and that certainly increases awareness to the problem, I always feel success will be the time when we don’t find a lot of garbage to retrieve. Are we being successful in changing our bad habit of littering???

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good point, Belinda! “Success” in this case I think would mean achieving specific goals and getting people involved. However, there can be incremental successes and the ultimate success would of course be not finding any garbage on our beaches. Behavior change is a tough one. There was the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign but public education must be ongoing – perhaps starting with the very young ones!


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