News - Sep 26, 2023 Volunteers Clean-up RenLau Community in Honiara Ahead of Pacific Games
The pristine beauty of the beaches in the Solomon Islands is under threat by the staggering amount of waste that accumulates on its shores. To combat this environmental challenge, community beach clean-ups have emerged as a powerful movement. These initiatives not only aim to remove rubbish but also educate and inspire community members to actively participate in recycling, reusing, and proper waste management practices.
The Environment and Conservation Division of the Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECCDMM) with the Honiara City Council and volunteers from the Renlau community coordinated a clean-up initiative of the community beach and the Mataniko riverfront.
The initiative was supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) implemented and European Union-funded PacWaste Plus programme as part of ongoing SPREP support towards the Greening of the Games efforts for the upcoming Pacific Games and to obtain useful baseline data to assist in the design and implementation of a pilot behaviour change project to improve waste management practices of a community upstream on the Mataniko River.
The community volunteers braved the heat and together removed a total of 1,676.74 kg of rubbish from the beach and riverbank. Of the litter collected plastic PET Bottles amounted to 253kg and Butane Gas Cans amounted to 117kgs.
“Engaging the local community is important in organising successful clean-ups, by involving the community the collective effort becomes more impactful and the sense of ownership and responsibility fostered within the community helps create a long-lasting commitment to preserving the coastal environment”, said Ms. Debra Kereseka, Deputy Director Environment, Environment, and Conservation Division.
The Deputy Director highlighted that one of the main objectives of the clean-up activity was to promote recycling and reusing practices and community volunteers were encouraged to separate waste into recyclable and non-recyclable categories, thereby reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Additionally, reusable containers and bags are provided to participants to minimize the use of single-use plastics during the clean-up activities.
“Community clean-ups go beyond simply picking up rubbish, but can be catalysts for change as they offer an opportunity to educate participants about the importance of proper waste disposal, available options, and the harmful effects of litter on marine life and our health”, said the Deputy Director.
“By engaging and equipping the community with knowledge, these initiatives empower them to make more sustainable choices in their daily lives and play a vital role in keeping our oceans and rivers clean”.
The community volunteers expressed that more needs to be done within communities to better manage the waste that is generated. The Department of Environment and Conservation with assistance from programme has engaged a consultant to design and assist in the implementation and monitoring of a behaviour change project that is being rolled out over a 12-month period.
“This is not the first time I have taken part in cleaning up our beach but that is what concerns me, we seem to be cleaning it every month or two but the rubbish just keeps getting washed up on our beaches and the piles of rubbish just get bigger and bigger”, said a volunteer.
“Our people need to be aware that not all waste needs to be thrown away, it can be recycled, reused, and even composted”, said another volunteer.
“It is unbelievable the amount of plastic bottles and other recyclable waste that wash up on this beach we just cleaned up, it is like our ocean and rivers have had enough and keep throwing up all the rubbish that people throw in them. We as a nation need to work together to better manage our waste and it starts with simple things like sorting your rubbish at home and stop throwing rubbish into the rivers and ocean”, added another.
The PacWaste Plus programme will continue to work closer with MECCDMM through collective action and a shared commitment to the environment, to create a sustainable and greener future for the local communities. As part of the programmes country mission, the programme team will progress more project actions in the Western Province with the Gizo market vendors and the Western Provincial Government.
Photos from the clean-up