Community Clean Up: “A home for everything, and everything in its home”

The yearly initiative of Statia’s ‘Community Clean Up’ took place on June 24th, 2020. This initiative was started in the grammar schools of Statia in 2012 and has since grown. It is now fully operational at the Gwendoline van Putten High School.

Principle Rosalie Edelstein has encouraged this initiative since she came to the Gwendoline van Putten School as she knows the necessity of teaching students’ good practices in garbage awareness and disposal. This year’s theme is, “A home for everything and everything in its home”.

“I think it is important that we understand that there is a ‘home’ for everything,” Ms. Edelstein said. She continued by emphasizing the positive effect this has on the students. “The students feel happy to do this because they see how messy Statia can become without regular clean up”.

Many students voice their unhappiness about the litter which is all too common on the island. This event serves to empower the students. The students are made aware of the negative impact of littering and are then put into action. “Awareness then action is an important message to transmit to our youth,” says Ms. Edelstein.

She continued to say that the students are encouraged to reflect about their own actions over the past year to see if they have placed garbage in its right home. This is all about accountability and recognizing that each action has a consequence.

The nature organization, STENAPA, has worked together with the schools since the inception of the initiative. They supply clip boards which the students use to write down the different types of trash collected; they also tally this information in order to see what type of trash is thrown out where on various locations on the island. These statistics are important as they show what type of trash forms the most pollution.  

STENAPA collects the bags and disposes of the trash in the most sustainable way. Christopher Woodley and STENAPA staff pick up the garbage bags, weigh them and put the trash in ‘its’ home’.

As the main focus this year was at Zeelandia Beach, sargassum (a type of algae) was collected in extra-large bags and was collected and distributed to ‘ReforStatia’ and ‘Made in Statia’ to be used as a natural fertilizer.

10 different groups were visible around the island and the students and teachers were enthusiastic to help keep Statia clean.

The children finished off the activity by signing a form to pledge that they will not litter and that. They will pick up litter and throw it away when they come across it.

The Gwendoline van Putten School did a great job again this year.

Government Commissioner, Marnix van Rij stopped to thank one of the groups yesterday on ‘The Way to Whitewall’.