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IS THE LLÉVATE TU BASURA BEACH PROTECTION EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM WORKING?

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A year has passed since we resumed this journey with the Educational Program for the Protection of Beaches #LlévateTuBasura, a project that has been worked on from 2010 to 2015; resuming with more force in 2021.

What was the focus of our program? Raise awareness and educate people who visit the beaches and who benefit in one way or another from this place.

Every day many people choose as a tourist destination to enjoy the sea, spend an afternoon with the family, have fun with a colds one with friends while watching the waves of the sea or practice a sport such as surfing. But… what was left at the end of the day?

Garbage, hundreds and hundreds of plastic waste or other materials that take years, and even centuries, to disintegrate.

Surely it's not the first time you've heard of this topic, it's so repetitive. The UN always mentions that we are destroying our ecosystems. Organizations such as NGO´S constantly draw attention warning that we are already experiencing climate change, that the Earth has little time left, that we are destroying everything.

All of that is not a set of scary words, it is reality. We are finishing everything!

With the #LlévateTuBasura Educational Program we analyze, first of all, the factors that contaminate our beaches, obtaining two answers: The first is due to the action of fishermen, sailors, etc., who when they go fishing they throw their waste into the water and by the currents they end up on the beaches. The second factor is due to the people who go to the beaches to enjoy a recreational activity and leave their garbage.

At Ecoplayas we decided to find effective solutions for the second factor.

500 linear meters of beach were determined in Santa Marianita-Manta, where a new methodology was implemented, removing garbage cans in the sand. As we explained a year ago, these containers were not of much use, since the municipality did not have the contingency of removing the garbage from said dumpsters due to the difficult access to the beach. So while we removed those bins, educational talks were given to all the tourists who visited the beach where our pilot plan started. Likewise, the beach is marked with signs that invite citizens to take their waste with them once their stay is over.

The dynamic was very simple: You take the garbage home, and deliver it to the dumpster; From that moment on, it is the responsibility of the city. We decided to speak with evidence, studies, giving our message not only in persons but also on our social networks, where we gave data on the serious damage that garbage does to the marine ecosystem.

We decided, together with local groups, carry out bimonthly beach cleaning.

In our first beach cleaning, on June 12, 2021, we found 367.06 lbs of garbage, such as plastic, wood, paper, ropes, mesh, rubber, among other debris that takes years to decompose, altering the marine flora and fauna.

At the next beach cleanup, on August 14, 2021, we removed 45.63 lbs of trash from the beach, including plastic bottles, lids, ropes, mesh, and metal. Here was a big change.

From then on, and since the beach looked in good condition, we did

not hold a beach cleaning until January 15, 2022. In this third beach cleaning the dynamics changed a bit, since microplastic was found in the previous two. Therefore, it was divided into two groups, those that collected pellets and those that collected waste, removing a total of 112.06 lb of garbage from the beach. A lot of this trash was the result of bonfires and all the New Year's Eve partying.

On June 18, 2022, we carried out the fourth beach cleanup, where we were able to collect 88.18 lb of garbage, and it can be seen that the amount of garbage has decreased considerably.

On September 10, 2022, we carried out the fifth beach cleanup, where we removed 161.99 lb. of garbage, of which only 12.78 lb correspond to the waste left by visitors on the beach; and the remaining 149.21 lb are from fishermen's ropes and meshes that do not properly dispose of their waste. These results left us impressed, as it became even more evident that our Educational Program has had an impact on the community and is working.

Currently, after five beach cleanups carried out as part of our Educational Program for the Protection of Beaches, we have removed 774.92 lb of garbage from the Punta La Barca-Santa Marianita beach.

It should be noted that in all our environmental remediation activities we have the participation of the Municipal GAD of Manta who are in charge of the contingency of beach waste collection resulting from beach cleaning. Here you can see a statistical table with the collected data.Currently, after five beach cleanups carried out as part of our Educational Program for the Protection of Beaches, we have removed 774.92 lb of garbage from the Punta La Barca-Santa Marianita beach.

It should be noted that in all our environmental remediation activities we have the participation of the Municipal GAD of Manta who are in charge of the contingency of beach waste collection resulting from beach cleaning. Here you can see a statistical table with the collected data.

All this is possible because of the work and love that we put into our educational program, and the beach cleanups that helped to find less and less garbage. Education was a fundamental pillar, as it is a way of connecting and raising awareness, always being direct.

Little by little, everyone began to do their part: the tourists, vendors, and fishermen on the beach. The community, parish council, and young people were involved to give educational talks to tourists. Protection and sustainable development is possible if we all work together.

Now, a year later, we can say that this program has borne fruit, because we have achieved a less dirty beach. Even so, much remains to be done, garbage continues to arrive from the sea brought by the currents.

For this reason, we want an initiative like this to be taken as an example to carry out on other beaches. Wishing that this educational program becomes public policy of the municipalities. Who can replicate this that we have developed to live in harmony with nature.

Enjoying nature and leaving the beach clean as you found it is possible. Always remember, when you return from the sea #LlévateTuBasura.

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