Mexico has come a long way in respect to environmental awareness; but litter is still a problem that will not be solved without the help of many. To address the issue in the community of La Cholla (Cholla Bay), a group of residents formed the Keep Cholla Beautiful Committee.
To date, more than a dozen full- and part-time residents have volunteered to adopt specific stretches of beach or roadway in the community. They go out with gloves, grabbers and plastic bags, on the hunt for litter. Some are out almost daily, getting a little exercise and some sunshine, others make it two or three times a week. Many do their collecting as they walk their dogs, so it’s double duty.
In November the committee members picked up 57 13-gallon bags of trash in just three weeks. In December, the count was 96 bags of trash.
“Much of the litter we see has obviously been blown out of a trash bin or the back of a truck,” said Oliver Maud. He and his Litter Gitter partner, LaLani Vehling, were the committee’s November individual champions, collecting nine bags of trash each. “Other litter, like beer bottles and dirty diapers, had to have been tossed deliberately and for apparent reasons. We just wish there were more public trash cans so people could do the right thing,” Maud added.
The committee explained that many people toss things they believe will be picked up by animals or decompose quickly on their own, but they don’t. For instance, an orange peel takes six months to decompose. Banana peels take up to five weeks and cigarette filters from one to 50 years.
The worst items, plastic soda bottles, tin cans, aluminum cans and glass bottles can take from 50 to 500 years to decompose and Styrofoam plates, cups and to-go boxes are described as “immortal” by Eco-Friendly Planet.
One of the committee’s goals is to involve local school-age children in the effort by encouraging teachers to do decomposition studies in their science classes and by sponsoring a poster and T-shirt design contest for students. “If we can teach the children about the impact of litter, they will bring those lessons home to their parents,” Vehling said.
Campers and backpackers in the United States have long repeated the mantra, “Pack it in, pack it out” and many visitors and locals do just that. But many people will remove all litter except for the aluminum cans. “They leave the aluminum for the needy people who gather and sell the cans,” Maud said. “It’s a noble gesture but the cans can blow away or wash out to sea and then it becomes litter.”
The committee hopes to place Aluminum Recycle containers in the community as well, to make it easy for people to help the needy and protect the environment. “We just started the committee in November,” Vehling said, “so there is a lot of work to do.”
They hope that other communities in Puerto Peñasco will adopt the concept and create “Keep Peñasco Beautiful Committees,” creating the path to a more beautiful environment for the whole area. For more information or to get involved, e-mail Cholla Charli at: firstname.lastname@example.org.