Communities tackle beach pollution in Antigua and Barbuda

Jennifer Moranto, Adopt a Coastline

The ‘Adopt a Coastline’ initiative is changing the attitudes and behaviour of local children through fostering and mentoring youth stewards to conserve and protect the marine and coastal assets in Antigua and Barbuda. The ‘Youth Stewardship’ programme is restoring and preserving Antigua’s coastlines through a grassroots campaign that includes beach clean-ups, community action and education, public awareness-raising via social media, and citizen science. The programme has become a nationally significant movement and has widened public understanding of the fragility of the island’s marine and coastal habitats and the impacts of pollution (especially from plastics).

Several beach clean-ups were organised in areas where birds, fish and turtles nest and feed, to introduce people to these pristine places where wildlife is struggling to survive. As a result, known turtle nesting sites are now kept clean, and articles collected are made into usable items such as artefacts and crafts for sale. For example, old tyres dumped on Falmouth Beach have been made into bins, and signs to ensure the beach is kept clean has been constructed from recycled wood.

Doing beach clean-ups by kayak in Antigua and Barbuda. Credit: Adopt a Coastline
Doing beach clean-ups by kayak in Antigua and Barbuda. Credit: Adopt a Coastline

Additional benefits achieved include:

  • Increased commitment to the protection of natural resources;
  • Engaged and educated communities, especially young people;
  • Long-term sustainability, with local community ownership and buy-in at all levels.

Private individuals and businesses are now donating money, time and resources to beach cleaning and maintenance programs. The Antigua Barbuda Marine Association has introduced a ‘Zero Waste Cup’ initiative to the Antigua and Barbuda Sailing Week, which has resulted in the diversion of 38,375 plastic cups from landfill.

The vision of the project is to reach more communities and sites, to train more youth stewards, and to create a viable means of support for their activities through further product development, social media output, and sponsorship from businesses and property owners.

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