The Do Good Get Dirty trip turned out to be way more than I expected and I am sincerely grateful to
Green Cross and Rajah Travel for taking us on such a grand adventure!
Apo Island Coastal Cleanup: My Do Good Get Dirty Experience
I joined the Do Good Get Dirty challenge to make a difference but tables turned and the experience changed me instead!
I was reminded of how we are all connected.
The highlight of the trip was Apo Island – a marine sanctuary where sea turtles like to chill out. Every month, the community gets together to clean their beach. This is a very tight-knit community, quite literally all family, of about 1,000 residents. It was moving to meet them and be a part of their monthly routine.
The target, really, is plastic. They explained that the sea turtle or pawikan feeds on seagrass and algae. Sadly, it is in these seagrass beds that many pieces of plastic get tangled. Eating the plastic can poison the sea turtles and kill them.
As a group, we started cleaning up the beach from one end to the other. I honestly expected little trash here and there considering they clean up every month. Unfortunately, I was wrong. There were way too many little and big bits of plastic, most entwined in the seaweed washed up on shore. What’s alarming is that most of the trash isn’t even from the Apo community, nor is it from tourists that snorkel or dive. The garbage comes from the sea (which, in turn, came from the rest of us). And the recent storms have increased the volume and frequency of this dumping of waste on Apo Island.
One of the most jarring moments happened when I was already snorkeling with the graceful pawikan. I was swimming after one and noticed a string of plastic stuck around its tail (You know the kind they use to secure boxes?). We aren’t allowed to touch the marine life so I pointed it out to our guide. Thankfully, he was able to pull the string free from the poor pawikan.
I’m certain this isn’t unique to Apo Island. I wonder how many of my wrappers have found a way, somehow, onto a pretty beach (or worse). I rarely think about where my waste goes after I throw it into a bin. But we never know, right?
Even unconsciously, the little things we do can make an impact on others and the environment.
I got to thinking about the mass production of all plastic packages and bottles and ropes and strings… And how we don’t really think about how much we consume and how much garbage is produced in the process.
There is so much natural beauty in the world. How long will it take for us to wreck it all?
My trip to Dumaguete and Siquijor was one for the books. It was fun and exciting and insightful and inspiring and magnificent! (I even witnessed the most beautiful sunset.) And while there were challenges here and there, I realize the bigger challenge is sustaining the “Do Good” part of the campaign wayyyyy after the experience.
While I have no control over what everyone else does, I am responsible for my own choices. And there are a whole lot of things I can do to minimize my impact on the environment.
Using a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable bottled water, using reusable bags for groceries, being more mindful of what goods to buy and their packaging, maybe buying in bulk instead of tiny sachets, ensure my waste is disposed of properly, eating less or no meat, buying locally produced goods, use less energy, unplug, don’t waste paper, etc.
Maybe sometime soon, I’ll find a way to make a bigger and more lasting impact. But, despite the cheesiness,
I do believe that it starts with me. I have to live it.Thanks again, Green Cross Alcohol and Rajah Travel, for such a fun and inspiring experience!