Turning beach trash into money

14May 2016
Dickson Ng`hily
The Guardian
Turning beach trash into money

THE Watamu Marine Association (WMA) is fast becoming a major player in the Kenyan waste management following the establishment of its recycling centre in Watamu area in the Kenyan Coast, which in fact has turn beach trash into money.

Steve Trott the chairman for Watamu Marine Association (PHOTO: Dickson Ng’hily)

Speaking to this reporter recently in Kenya, the WMA Chairman Steve Trott, said that his association aims to clears the Kenya’s beaches and waterways of plastic rubbish while also educating and improving the lives of people living in poverty.

According to him, around 80 percent of the litter found in the ocean starts on land, and most of it is plastic. Such plastic rubbish pollutes the water and hurts seabirds, fish, turtles and other marine animals that mistake it for food.

“The centre is generating income from the sale of recyclables, besides selling crushed plastic to the recycling industries, our local community artists are making art and crafts from flip flops and plastic waste and selling them to tourist outlets,” he observed.

Adding: “This is a unique initiative at the coast and is intended to raise public awareness to the problems related to waste and pollution and to demonstrate the potential of community solutions to waste management problems.”

Trott explained that his association developed the centre as a demo site for small environmental technologies and best practices. This will include glass blowing, composting, permaculture, bio-fuel briquette making as an alternative to charcoal, bio-gas production from manure and tree nurseries.

It is said that the site is open to the public and as a tourist attraction and also government and educational institutions are being invited to use it as a case study and centre for learning.

Media re[ports indicates that plastic bags and materials are ingested by endangered sea turtles who mistake them for jellyfish which are part of their natural diet.
The turtles eventually die due to internal problems and starvation due to the gut being blocked. Plastics are also ingested by cetaceans (dolphins and whales). Whales, dolphins and whale sharks can all be found in Watamu waters.

Plastics smother corals and other marine creatures living on the sea bed, inhibiting them from breathing and feeding and resulting in loss of health or death. The impact of solid waste is deteriorating our local environment resulting in threats to human health and welfare and potentially discouraging tourists from visiting the area.

The latter is a serious concern as many coastal communities depend on tourism as their primary source of income and employment.

So in 2009 WMA took action and set up a community solid waste management project supported by IUCN Netherlands and African Fund of Endangered Wildlife Kenya Ltd through which recycling machinery was purchased for crushing plastic waste and the Blue Team waste collectors and recyclers were formed, made up from impoverished members of local youth and women's groups.

The association is a local initiative to improve the environment at Watamu beach in Kenya. It's become a major source of employment for a poor community.

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