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Livelihood Opportunities in Beach Clean Ups

Bantayan Island Mini Clean Up

Length of beach covered ~ 200m

Sacks collected – 3 rice sacks

Volunteers – 4 girls selling shell necklaces on the beach

Main items collected – shoes, ice candy wrappers, hair care sachets and bottles, straws, here’s a snapshot.

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In Bantayan Island kids tried to sell us shell necklaces each day. Yes they should have been in school, and seeing some kids working to survive is one of the hard realities of life in the Philippines. However, instead of buying a necklace from them I asked them to join me for a beach clean up for half an hour and in turn I gave them 20 pesos each. I am really careful when kids join to make sure they wash their hands properly after the clean up, and to make sure that they don’t join for too long.

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It never ceases to amaze me how keen kids can be and how they just get stuck in and get the job done! It got me thinking about the livelihood opportunities in waste. I’m so interested in the intersection between livelihood and waste. Just because I care about the environment doesn’t mean I don’t care about these kids. Who knows, what if we engage their parents in the issue of cleaning up the oceans, if we could mobilise Badjao to clean the beaches, as this is also their livelihood, instead of selling pearls, and shells, and other things that are purely decorative? Perhaps that could form part of the solution and give them funds to send their kids to school. Of course the problem of plastic goes way beyond beach clean ups. But once we work out how to stop using plastic it is going to take a while to clean up the world and it would be great if we could create some jobs in this. Food for thought.

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