In preparation for the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), on September 18 the U.S. Embassy Managua visited the Nicaraguan Northamerican Cultural Center (CCNN) to speak to approximately 120 Access Program students about the importance of marine debris prevention, and to garner excitement for this year’s ICC – the largest one-day volunteer cleanup event in the world. The Ocean Conservancy’s ICC has been collecting important data for 28 years on the amount and types of trash found along our coastlines and in our waters, in an effort to help solve the marine debris issue.
Funded by the U.S. Embassy Managua, the Access Program is a two year English scholarship program for underprivileged youth in Nicaragua. During the visit on September 18 from Economics Officer Karen Bettencourt, Political Officer and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Fellow, Cara Chavez, and Community Liaison Office Coordinator, Jen Dinoia, the Access students participated in an exercise developed by the USEPA whereby they determined how long certain types of trash take to decompose in the environment. The students showed surprise at the amount of time disposable diapers and glass bottles last in the environment (450 years and 600 years, respectively), and nearly all of them admitted to having seen someone litter in the past. The students then participated in the ICC on Saturday, September 20, alongside U.S. Ambassador Phyllis Powers and other embassy participants, local organizations, businesses, and community members at a cleanup site along the shores of Lake Nicaragua in Granada. Final tallies of trash are still being calculated, but the event was successful in bringing out volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, and in helping to increase awareness about litter and marine debris prevention.