For the sixth consecutive year, Energy Chamber members participated in the International Coastal Cleanup, joining more than 500 volunteers in clearing trash from 20 rivers, waterfalls and beaches nationwide.

Chamber members led cleanup at two locations: Quinam Beach, Siparia, and Carli Bay, Couva.

Marissa Mohammed, the country coordinator for International Coastal Cleanup Trinidad and Tobago (ICCTT), was pleased with the support for the event, which has grown from just 40 volunteers cleaning one site 13 years ago. “The support has grown,” she said, “but so has the garbage.”

Volunteers picked up thousands of pounds of trash, which were sorted and categorised into glass, plastics, cans, tyres or miscellaneous waste. Mostly, they collected plastics, but there were some surprises, too. “We saw garbage that could furnish an entire house,” Mohammed said about finds such as mattresses, fridges and stoves. The borough corporations removed and disposed of the waste, and some corporate sponsors accepted recyclables.

ICCTT sent all data to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of Ocean Conservancy, the international nonprofit organisation that hosts the event in more than 150 countries. Researchers use this information to develop the Ocean Trash Index, which monitors sources of garbage, identifies possible solutions and influences local and international legislation. One such local piece of legislation is the Beverage Containers Bill, which was laid before Parliament in 2013, but has yet to be enacted.

“We see the annual beach cleanup programme as an excellent opportunity to positively impact the environment and collect important data on pollution,” Chamber CEO Dax Driver said. “The beach cleanup has proved to be an excellent team-building initiative for companies who have taken part and has often acted as a catalyst for them to get involved in other volunteer activities, such as the United Way ‘Day of Caring.’”

Donors gave money, food, supplies and equipment, and according to Chamber Research Coordinator Arianne Moonsie, the donations were crucial to the success of the event. “The most important part of this is the data collection,” she said, “and that can only happen through donations and volunteers.”