Beach Clean-Up with Utila Dive Center

One of the requirements of UDC’s Divemaster program is to participate in a beach clean-up, which is a great way to ensure all the students are aware of the environmental problems with our oceans. Last Monday, I participated in my first beach clean-up with Utila Dive Center. It was enlightening and a little bit depressing but ultimately rewarding.

Getting to the beach clean-up

We met at UDC and drove in a van to the beach at the southeast end of the island, where I had never been.  From Google Maps, I guess it is Iron Shore Beach. There’s no road across the island, so we went all the way south and then back up the east side.

Iron Shore Beach Utila map
UDC to Iron Shore Beach, Utila

Advance preparation

One of the UDC instructors, T, led the group and she organized everything, providing gloves, garbage bags, rakes, and trays to put special types of refuse on, like glass bottles (of which there were few) and bottle caps (many). We were prepared and we needed to be. The amount of trash that washes onto that island from the ocean has to be seen to be believed.

Organized into teams, we competed with each other a bit: for most trash, and most of each type of trash. It was just one element to keep people involved, but most of us didn’t need the game.

Beach Clean Up Utila UDC
Our gear for the beach clean-up

Plastic is the Problem

Most of what was washed up on the beach was made of plastic, including utensils, straws, toothbrushes, bottle caps, broken pieces of deodorant containers and shampoo bottles. Yes, tons of PLASTIC. Seeing all that waste made me want to do better and use less plastic, among other things.

Beach clean up Utila garbage
Garbage on the beach

Regular Clean-ups

UDC organizes these clean-ups regularly, and you can understand why. We collected a lot of trash but most of us felt like we barely made a dent in what was there. There were at least 10 of us on this clean-up and we collected so many bags of trash only 2 people could fit in the pick-up truck with the trash for the ride back. AND, all the bags couldn’t fit in the pick-up so the driver had to return for more!

Clean-Up with a Good Result

All of us who participated were happy we did it and I will try to join another one while I am here. We spent about 2 hours collecting garbage. We were lucky too – it was cloudy so we didn’t get overheated or too much sun.

Iron Shore Beach cleanup Utila bagged trash
Our pile of garbage bags after the beach clean-up
Beach Clean Up UDC Utila complete
The full truck after our UDC beach clean-up

We Should All Be Doing Beach Clean-Ups

This kind of garbage constantly washes up on beaches all over the world and is all over our oceans. Most of it gets there from tributaries like rivers and streams.

My take-away? Don’t litter, of course, and recycle, naturally, but also don’t buy or use products like plastic straws and plastic utensils. Use your own reusable water bottles. Think, plan and be good to our environment.

Finally, take the time to participate or organize a clean-up of your own. It doesn’t have to be at a beach, just pick a park or other area that you want to keep nice. It was rewarding to be part of the beach clean-up with Utila Dive Center and I plan to do a lot more in the future.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

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