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EcoPlayas, a beach care education project

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As part of the social responsibility of EcuadorianHands we have a very nice project, called EcoPlayas, this project aims to educate the citizens of Manta - Ecuador to keep the beaches clean. This project has been in place for more than 10 years and as of 2015, it gained more strength, with the #LlevateTuBasura campaign, where we seek that each person who visits our beaches collect their waste and take it away so as not to leave traces of plastic or other waste that gets dirty. the beach landscape.

We are very aware that climate change is happening now. Our life on the planet hangs by a thread. If we continue with our human habits of polluting unrestrainedly, we will not have a place with the necessary conditions to preserve our species. The change has to be done now! Therefore, from our trench, we want to focus on educating on beach care, in what way? Giving strength to our campaign, where we want citizens not to leave their garbage on the beaches. You have to create awareness, you have to start telling people that the garbage is part of their belongings.

Why is it important to take care of the beaches?

At EcuadorianHands we are committed to the protection and care of the dry forests where Palo Santo trees (bursera graveolens) and other species inhabit. As you know, our beaches are part of the dry forest ecosystem, and therefore, these areas are within our social responsibility. It is important to remember that any alteration to our ecosystems can be crucial for the loss of balance of our dry forests. That is why we empower ourselves to also take care of our beaches as places where we can make a real change and educate by creating awareness in the care of these spaces.

The beaches are places where hundreds of people enjoy a pleasant time of recreation, where they settle to receive the good vibes that we find in the sea. Surely you have experienced it, the infinite ocean with its salty water, the warm and relaxing sand, the sea breeze that gently ruffles you. For years it has been the destination of friends, families, couples. No person does not enjoy the beaches. The purpose of the beaches is also to be a point of protection for the inhabitants who live near the sea, as it protects them from rising tides and strong winds. These ecosystems have a purpose and an end.

In addition, on the beaches, the economic livelihood of many families is developed, as there are bars, restaurants, water sports centers, handicrafts, or clothing sales. All these businesses would not exist if the beaches were not touristy attractive. A balanced ecosystem is needed to be able to maintain the beauty of the beaches and businesses that are sustainable, that is why it is important to be aware that we must take care of it all.

What causes pollution on our beaches?

At present we have detected that on our beaches two factors generate pollution, in the first place, the action of fishermen who dump their waste offshore and that due to the effect of currents they reach the beaches leaving residues of ropes, nets, bottles plastic, etc. The other factor is due to the people who visit the beaches and who after spending a pleasant stay leave their garbage on the beach, waste such as plastic covers, tin, plastic or glass bottles, and organic waste.

We have focused on the second factor, education in beach cleaning, effectively appearing to each citizen to take care of the beaches taking their garbage, if each person does it that way, we would not see waste on the beach.

Beach cleaning maintains the health of human life

Let's start with the fact that beaches are ecosystems where there is their own flora and fauna that, when affected by waste, degrade rapidly. By having dirty and polluted beaches, it would not be possible for the life of animals and plants to be kept in balance, so they would begin to die and disappear. Another aspect of the degradation of the ecosystem of the beaches is that when they are dirty they become sources of infectious diseases, which would cause people to get sick and it will no longer become attractive or fun to visit on the beaches. We would lose the beautiful landscapes of the beaches and at the same time, they make us sick.

Strategy to start educating citizens

The responsibility is yours! First, we have determined 500 linear meters of beach in Ecoplayas - Santa Marianita - Manta, where we have implemented a new methodology to test the hypothesis that garbage cans are not necessary for the sand to maintain cleanliness on the beaches. The action is simple, you pick up your garbage and keep it for yourself, and when you get home the boots in their place. Our objective is to investigate and write a scientific article that determines whether or not our hypothesis is viable, and whether it causes any change in the way people think when it comes to educating them to take their garbage. If it is effective, then let it become an example to be replicated on other beaches.

Why have we seen that garbage cans are not necessary? We have observed that these cans store and store waste until it is cupped or broken and no one removes the garbage from these places. And on many occasions animals have been seen stirring the garbage attracted by the smell leaving everything scattered in the sand, total displeasure.

Our strategy is to observe how people perceive the removal of garbage cans and how they become aware and take the initiative to take their garbage. We started by making videos and posts disseminated on social networks to effectively communicate our #LlevateTuBasura campaign, showing alternatives and various ways of showing that each one can take care of their garbage with small actions.

By involving citizens in the protection and sustainable development of beaches, we empower citizens on the management of their solid waste. We collaborate to have our natural recreational areas healthy and to reduce the costs of collection to the municipality, for a job that they do not perform correctly.

We must reaffirm that each person is responsible for taking care of the natural places they visit, it is an initiative to start with small actions to counteract climate change.

By: María José Pinargote

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