Death by Garbage

December 11th, 2011
by Gunter Kordovsky

[private] v9-12-Utila PerpectiveWhen I first arrived on this beautiful island in 1970 I was amazed at all the natural beauty prevalent above and below the water. The garbage on Utila was for most part biodegradable, but still repulsive and smelly.

With no garbage pickup most of it went into the sea, including untreated sewage. I want to spare the reader some of my harrowing experience in and out of the water. With tourists constantly complaining about the trash on the reef and on the beaches some of us dive shop owners plus expats decided to start periodic cleanups.

To give the reader an idea: We collected 150 sacks of garbage on a narrow 6- to 10-foot wide beach about a kilometer long and that was about 20 years ago. In the meantime our population has tripled and garbage is accumulating at an astonishing rate daily. That doesn’t take into account what is washing up on the beaches.

Unfortunately most of Utila’s trash comes from the mainland, neighboring islands and, sad to say, boats. I will never forget when a big 20 lb. reef snapper swam right up to my mask during an early morning decompression stop and spit a chunk of plastic out. It was as if he wanted to say: “Here is your garbage.”

Thanks to BICA and our progressive-minded municipality, a garbage system is working relatively well, our streets are being swept daily, garbage is being picked up. But the burden of keeping Utila clean should not only be the burden of the municipality. Everybody needs to help reduce the volume of garbage by separating it and recycling. Some Utilans and expats make sure their beaches are always clean. For example, Mark of Trade Wind Properties has done a very fine job of keeping that part of the island presentable and a daily beach cleanup is a must. Our dive community also organizes beach cleanups which involve schools.

Tourists from all over the world pay big dollars to see what Utila has to offer. Even though our reefs are much cleaner and most locals now use garbage drums, our beaches still look like a disaster area. One would think that with so many churches on this island the natives would have more regrets of God creation and not take it for granted.

Let’s help BICA, PADI, our mayor by doing our share to keep Utila presentable to our guests by doing our share. If other countries can do it, we can to.

Remember cleanliness is next to godliness. Utila, Cinderella of the Caribbean deserves it. Keep it Clean! [/private]

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