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Is the educational program for beach protection LlévateTuBasura working?

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The Beach Protection Educational Program #LlévateTuBasura, led by Ecoplayas as part of the EcuadorianHands initiative, has been actively combating beach pollution since 2010.

After a brief hiatus, the program resumed in 2021 with new vigor. The initiative aims to educate and raise awareness among beach visitors about the importance of taking their trash to protect the environment.

Program Objectives and Initial Challenges

The main focus of the program is to address two main sources of beach pollution:

  1. Waste discarded by fishermen and sailors.
  2. Garbage left by tourists and beach visitors.
  3. The inhabitants settled near the river beds. Since March 29, 2024 we have identified this problem due to the strong winter.

Ecoplayas focused on the second problem by removing ineffective trash containers from Santa Marianita Beach, where access for regular waste collection was problematic. Since Mar 29, 2024, we have decided to find a solution to the 3rd problem.

Instead, they launched educational campaigns encouraging visitors to take their trash home.

Implementation and Results

Educational talks and clear signage were implemented to guide tourists in the responsible disposal of their waste. Social media campaigns reinforced these messages by highlighting the severe impact of marine litter on ecosystems.

Milestones and Successes

  • Minga #1: June 12, 2021: First cleanup (minga) collected 367.06 pounds of trash.
  • Minga #2: August 14, 2021: Second cleanup collected 45.63 pounds, showing a significant reduction.
  • Minga #3: January 15, 2022: Third cleanup, addressing microplastics, collected 112.06 pounds.
  • Minga #4 June 18, 2022: Fourth cleanup collected 88.18 pounds.
  • Minga #5: September 10, 2022: Fifth cleanup collected 161.99 pounds, of which only 12.78 pounds was trash left by tourists.

These efforts demonstrated a notable improvement in beach cleanliness, reflecting the positive impact of the program.

Community Participation and Environmental Impact

The success of the program is largely attributed to the active participation of the community. Local government bodies, the Manta Municipal GAD, and volunteers played crucial roles in maintaining beach cleanliness and organizing educational activities. By involving locals, vendors and fishermen, the program fostered a collective responsibility for environmental conservation.

Recent Cleanings and Observations

  • Minga #6: (September 16, 2023) 90 volunteers collected 336 pounds of trash in 45 minutes, mainly household plastics brought by the riverbed.
  • Minga #7 (December 2, 2023): 15 volunteers collected 67.94 pounds of trash, indicating the continued effectiveness of educational efforts.
  • Minga#8: (February 3, 2024) 15 volunteers collected 130 pounds of trash, including many glass bottles, highlighting the need for improved signage and access control.
  • Minga #9: (March 29, 2024) 20 volunteers collected 250 pounds of waste, including shoes and plastics, washed up on the beach by recent rains.
  • Minga #10: (April 20, 2024) 25 volunteers collected 254 pounds of trash on Earth Day. Most of this debris had been washed down the riverbed after recent rains, although many bottles left by tourists were also found.
  • Minga #11: (May 2024) With 30 BeachGuards, highlighted youth commitment to beach cleaning and environmental education, collecting 259 pounds of trash. The educational talks are working, but it is necessary to install signage and garbage containers upstream to prevent pollution at the source. These activities strengthen the community and demonstrate that positive change is possible by collaborating together.

Continuous Improvement and Future Goals

Despite positive trends, the program recognizes the need to address the influx of waste washed down the riverbed, especially during the rainy season. This underscores the importance of expanding educational efforts to areas near bodies of water and reinforcing waste management strategies.

The #LlévateTuBasura program has made notable progress in reducing litter on beaches and raising environmental awareness.

By encouraging community participation and maintaining ongoing educational efforts, EcuadorianHands demonstrates that sustainable beach protection is possible.

Continued dedication to the program and its expansion to other beaches can further increase its impact, promoting a cleaner, healthier coastal environment.

Remember, every visit to the beach is an opportunity to protect our natural world. Always carry your trash with you. #LlévateTuBasura.

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