BMES students observe Earth Day at assembly

ADDRESSING THE STUDENTS – Founder of EarthCARE, Gail Woon, speaking to Bishop Michael Eldon School Primary assembly on Earth Day 2018. The year’s theme, Plastic Pollution and EARTHCARE. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF GAIL WOON)

EARTHCARE’s Founder, Gail Woon addressed the BMES Assembly on April 17. Her topics were Earth Day, Plastic Pollution and EARTHCARE. Earth Day is April 22. “The first Earth Day was in 1970. Pollution was very bad, the air was polluted. In the U.S. the rivers were so full of chemicals that were dumped by industries that they would regularly catch on fire. The people were fed up and they marched and protested asking their government to enact laws to protect the air, the water and the ground from pollution. Every year since then, more and more people and countries have started to celebrate Earth Day worldwide.

Now more than ever, people around the world are realizing that a clean environment is essential for our future. Due to air pollution we are experiencing climate change which is directly affecting The Bahamas with stronger and more frequent hurricanes and sea level rise due to ice caps melting.

The focus for Earth Day 2018 is plastic pollution. Plastic is threatening our planet’s survival, from poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our streams and landfills. Together, we can make a difference.

Plastic objects that we use once and discard, or single-use plastics, are a growing critical problem of global proportion. That’s why this Earth Day, April 22, 2018, is focused on Ending Plastic Pollution by Earth Day 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

EARTHCARE is a nonprofit, community based Environmental Education Non-Governmental Organization, founded in 1988, dedicated to increasing public awareness and understanding of environmental issues.
We have been working for many years educating students, teachers and the public at large about the various environmental issues facing our country today.

EARTHCARE volunteers have been involved with International Coastal Clean-up Day since 1988. One day when I organized an underwater beach clean-up, I found a beautiful mother of pearl clam shell. It was alive. When these particular Mollusk shells leave the larval stage, floating in the sea, they land on a hard surface and stick to it and remain there the rest of their lives. I found my favorite shell had the unfortunate luck to land and stick on to a piece of plastic. I pulled the plastic up out of the sand and was mortified to find that the mother of pearl shell had stuck itself to a piece of plastic that should not have even been in the ocean. This experience has stayed with me over the years making me more adamant that we should stop polluting our seas and our land.
Our most recent project that started in 2013 is EARTHCARE Eco Kids. We take students from Grades 4-6 on Saturdays and teach them about various environmental issues and follow it up with a fun field trip to reinforce the issue of the day.

Students from most of the schools on the island have participated in our program. Topics that we cover include Pollution, Ground, Air and Water; Habitat Destruction/Remediation, the importance of Mangroves, Humane Treatment of Animals; Sustainable Fisheries; Eco Art and Climate Change and many more. (We are in desperate need of funding to keep this project going, if anyone can suggest sources of funding please let us know.) Can we learn from our mistakes? I surely hope so!

Join an NGO of your choice, such as the Bahamas National Trust, reearth, EARTHCARE, the Grand Bahama Humane Society, Friends of the Environment, BREEF, Save The Bays and the list goes on. All of the environmental NGOs have an educational component. Take advantage and send your kids or go and learn about issues with the NGO of your choice. Or create your own! Sign petitions, write letters to the government ministry in charge of your issue, get fellow community members involved. Together we can make a difference, It’s our Turn to Lead! As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

If I have left you with nothing else please keep in mind every little thing that you do has an impact. The impact will be felt by our children and their children. What sort of world do we want to leave to our kin? Let’s join together and see that our kids have a bright future with sustainable resources that they can hand down to their children and their children’s children. It is indeed, our Turn to Lead and as Grade 1 told us this morning, “Tell the Truth. Plastic pollutes.”

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