“Are you from the government? What association are you from? Do you get paid for this?” are some of the many questions that Kay and I hear while cleaning the mangroves and beaches in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Some people even talk to me in English thinking I’m a tourist cleaning the beach, so I reply, in Spanish, “no, we’re not from the government, we’re not from any association, we’re citizens from Playa volunteering to clean our beaches”.
I would like to tell you a bit more about Kay and I. Kay wakes up every morning between 03:30 and 04:00 in the morning to arrange the tours that he offers in Kay Tours Mexico all over the Riviera Maya. He’s a proud father of 2 boys and husband of a lovely lady.
I don’t wake up as early as Kay, (only 2 hours later) and I work as Communication Manager at a US charity in Playa del Carmen called Keeping Kids in School, a charity that donates school supplies and gives scholarships to kids and teenagers in public schools.
So, Kay and I have full time jobs and for the past 6 months, both of us have been paying for the gloves and bags that we need for our clean-ups.
I wanted to tell you more about us so you can feel my excitement as I write these words.
Two months ago, when we were negotiating with the Mexican clothing brand SQUALO the sponsorship of our uniforms, the CEO of the brand contacted me with someone in the USA. When I saw the recipient of this email, I felt like my heart stopped for a second. The person was a representative of an Association that I’ve been following for months. Their feed appears on my Facebook and Instagram accounts every day. “I want to be like them”, “I want uniforms like these ones”, “I want our volunteers to have proper equipment so people stop asking if we´re from the government”, I thought to myself every single day.
Two surfers clean our Planet
Alex and Andrew, surfers from the USA, faced plastic problem while traveling in Bali, Indonesia. Devastated by the ammount of trash, they decided to speak to local fishermen and join efforts to clean both beaches and ocean. And there’s more. Andrew and Alex came up with the idea of making bracelets with recycled plastic in order to fund more clean-ups and replicate this model all over the World.
This is how 4Ocean was born. This association has turned into a global movement in which volunteers from around the Planet participate in beach and ocean clean-ups.
4Ocean has become a movement where communities work together in full time jobs as ship Captains, Logistics and Recycling. Today, 4Ocean has 150 employees around the World.
This is a clear example of how two friends who love the ocean take this love beyond contemplation and do something about the plastic and trash issue.
My dream came true
I’m aware that I’m not the ordinary woman. I’m 41, never been married, never wanted children and always knew I wanted to dedicate my life to the Planet, to my community, wherever I go. My dreams don’t include a house or a car of the year (I ride my bicycle and I love it). My dreams are things I can’t touch, but things I can see, and this is one of them.
That email that I received from someone in the USA, was a representative from 4Ocean inviting me to take part of this movement. I remember staring at the screen thinking I was having a dream, but no, I was well awake.
So, dear reader, I’m pleased to announce that we have 4Ocean t-shirts, bags, gloves and a scale for our clean-ups!
As part of 4Ocean, is our responsibility to make sure that all the trash we collect during our beach and magrove clean-ups is properly disposed. This means separated and recycled.
To have a local recycling company was a requirement in order to take part of this community of volunteers for 4Ocean.
So, I found RECICLEMOS, a local recycling center in Playa del Carmen that separates and recycles glass, plastic, paper, cans and styrofoam.
Kay and I had a meeting with them to propose working together so, after our mangrove and beach clean up of July 21st, RECICLEMOS arrived with a truck to take, separate and recycle the trash collected.
I personally cleaned and crushed the 94 PET bottles we collected and sent them to 4Ocean to turn them into bracelets.
Because I respect you and I admire you
Weeks ago I was dating a man that during our last date (decided to never, ever see him again, will explain why shortly), said: “that thing you do, cleaning the beaches, well ‘chiquita’, is something that I respect, but I don’t admire”. I sat there in silence. I felt so sorry for him. He then said: “I don’t know, maybe, maybe I will come join you one day, but only one day, no more”. “Please, don’t. I’m not asking you to, and I don’t want you to”, I replied. I then blocked him and deleted him from my life. But, he left me thinking something I do thank him for:
I don’t clean the beaches and mangroves to have respect or admiration. I take part in this clean-ups because I respect and admire our Planet. To grab floating used diapers from the mangroves brings me relief. To know that reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, crustaceans and small mammals won’t be affected with trash that humans dispose in their home, brings me great relief.
So, wherever I go, either a beach or the bottom of any ocean, I will never, ever stop cleaning. I will never stop this mission of mine so that you, your children and future generations enjoy our Mother Earth as much as I’ve enjoyed her.
See you next beach and mangrove clean-up!
05 of August, 08:00 A.M., Punta Esmeralda, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
"It's time to share with you something we've been preparing for 2 months. We join forces with 4Ocean!"
Karla and Kay excitedly opening the kit box from 4Ocean in Spanish ... A great watch, even if you don't speak it!
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