Tuesday, 25 May 2010

How it all started

Last January, I (Sarah) went for a walk along the Shikoku path in Shimada Island, Naruto. The path starts near 鳴門新橋and ends near Otsuka Museum of Art. My friends and I were eager to walk along the coast, so when we got to an intersection with a major road, we decided to take the road less travelled.

After going through the woods for a few minutes, we were astonished by the view of Koike(小池): small terraced fields with the Seto Inland Sea in the background. We walked towards the sea, hoping to find a path to carry on our walk. This led us to Koike beach, a place neither words nor pictures can describe accurately.

Pet bottles, cans and polystyrenes- among a million other things- have accumulated for years on this 200m stretch of beach. It looks like most of the rubbish comes from the sea, brought by strong currents and winds.

Anyhow, it was clear to me that something ought to be done. Naruto city is making a lot of effort to clean along the roads and campaign against dumping.

But what can be done when the rubbish comes from the sea? From January onwards, I talked to various people and showed pictures to my friends in Japan and abroad. Given the scale of pollution and the isolation of Koike, nobody could come up with a solution.

So on a beautiful day last April, I decided to spend the day at the beach and give cleaning a go. I had never done this before and was very optimistic as to what I could accomplish in one day. These five hours on the beach helped me realized the mammoth task ahead. The following week, I could show concrete action and talk about the issue more accurately. By doing so, I secured the support of Naruto High School. Within a week, the beach cleaning project came together quickly thanks to the help of Naruto city office and Donoura waste treatment plant.

On April 17th, 24th and 25th, 20 to 30 people gathered to collect rubbish. We were first assigned to the Tajiri(田尻) beach. Although it looked clean in comparison to Koike, it is still far from spotless! Naruto High School students, local inhabitants, ALTs and university exchange students got together and sorted rubbish while collecting it. Bags were then stored along the wall by the beach. Mr Miyamoto, head of Shimada illegal Garbage Dumping Patrol, took responsibility for the transportation of over 300 bags, from the beach to the treatment plant.

This month, we have decided to ‘attack’ the mountains of rubbish on Koike. On Saturday 15th, around 30 people including students, local inhabitants and people from further away in Tokushima got together for two hours. We concentrated on collecting pet bottles and cans.

The roles of Mr Miyamoto and Donoura Waste Treatment Plant are crucial. For this reason, Naruto High School and the waste treatment plant have decided to coordinate their actions. However, we also need more volunteers! So, why don't you join us on next time?

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