The data result for the International Coastal Cleanup has been finalized and the facts are astounding.

On Dutch side St.Maarten, volunteers cleaned and inventoried trash from five beaches, Mullet Bay Beach, Guana Bay Beach, Simpson Bay Beach, Great Bay Beach and Belair Beach. The International Coastal Cleanup data card provided a separation of bags into plastic and paper; this being done for the first time is to track how many of each category is littered on our beaches as well as coastlines around the world.

The results show that littered plastic bags far outweigh paper bags on our beaches. 

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The results between paper and plastic bags are as follows;

Mullet Bay Beach

Paper 1078

Plastic 2091

Guana Bay

Paper 44

Plastic 159

Great Bay Beach

Paper 52

Plastic 119

Simpson Bay Beach

Paper 95

Plastic 241

Belair Beach

Paper 76

Plastic 93

As the campaign continues on St.Maarten to place a ban on plastic bags given out for free at grocery outlets and fast food outlets, St.Maarten PRIDE foundation places urgency on our business community and our government to acknowledge that our island has to own up to the fact that our business sector and consumers are responsible for the large amount of flimsy plastic grocery bags in our natural environment.

Flimsy grocery plastic bags are polluting our streets, our ocean and waterways, and too often are stuck to our trees and cacti, causing visual pollution

St.Maarten consumers should become more socially responsible by taking their own re-usable bags when they do their grocery shopping. Large supermarkets should be taking the lead as has been done in Curacao by banning plastic bags in their stores and encouraging the use of canvas, cloth, jute, straw and other shopping bags that are re-usable. Plastic bags kill our marine wildlife such as our sea turtles, dolphins and marine birds like our National bird the Brown Pelican.

Plastic bags do more harm to our environment than the 20 minutes of usage consumers get out of them for carrying their groceries. In addition, plastic bags remain for hundreds of years in our landfills as they are not biodegradable.

This St.Maarten/St.Martin day, our foundation is asking all St.Maarten/St.Martin residents to take time to reflect on our natural environment, take time to reflect on what makes our island such a special place, our Great Salt Pond, our Beaches, The Simpson Bay lagoon, our national trees, our national birds such as the brown pelican, our endangered sea turtles and the free swimming dolphins in our waters. Make a conscientious effort to create changes in your daily life that can have a positive effect on our natural environment. While we encourage everyone to enjoy our beaches on St.Maarten/St.Martin day, we hereby ask all residents and visitors not to leave litter behind at the beaches.