Over 75 volunteers, mobilised by the GraceKennedy Foundation (GKF) and its partners, gathered at Sirgany Beach in East Kingston on July 16, 2022, to remove 1,092 pounds of solid waste from the shoreline.

The initiative was carried out under the Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project, which is being implemented by The Ocean Cleanup, the GK Foundation and Clean Harbours Jamaica to   encourage sustainable investment in a clean Kingston Harbour.

GKF volunteers started their efforts on Sirgany Beach at the crack of dawn, combing the coastline for plastics and other debris. In addition to GK team members, the volunteers included employees of the Jamaica Public Service and Jamaica Customs Agency, representatives of local service clubs, and students from The University of the West Indies.

CEO of the GKF, Caroline Mahfood commented that Sirgany Beach had been cleaned under the Kingston Harbour Cleanup project only two months earlier; notwithstanding a tremendous amount of garbage had greeted the volunteers when they arrived. She was pleased to report that through their hard work, by midday, the beach was looking much cleaner. Subsequently, GKF executed an extensive clean-up of Sirgany Beach over two-week period in August, to tackle the years of build-up of waste at the location.

Sirgany Beach before it was cleaned up by volunteers at the GraceKennedy Foundation clean-up on July 16, 2022. Photos: Khristina Godfrey

Genee Tracey, an employee of the Jamaica Customs Agency, expressed her disapproval at the deplorable condition of the beach and encouraged Jamaicans to exercise better waste management practices. “When we came here this morning and we saw the amount of lunch boxes and plastic bottles, it is clear that we have to do better. The amount of garbage that we cleared from just one section of the beach today shows that we are doing our country a disservice by disposing of our garbage improperly,” she said.

Tasha Kay Thompson, Public Relations Officer for the Kingston Eastern Police Civic and Consultative Committee, and former resident of the Windward Road area, recalled the stark difference between the Sirgany beach she used to visit during her childhood, and the state of the beach now. “Growing up, I could walk on the beach barefooted, and I would not be stepping on so much trash and bottles. I remember how we used to come down here for fun, to go in the water. It’s so heart-breaking to me that children today can’t do that now. Today, when I set foot on this beach it was a totally different experience for me. If I had taken off my shoes, the chances are that I would have been hurt,” said Ms Thompson.

She also commended the Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project, for its mission to provide a long-term solution to the long-standing pollution problem in the Harbour.  By reducing the amount of waste entering the Harbour, The Kingston Harbour Cleanup Project is playing an active role in safeguarding Jamaica’s ecological heritage for future generations.

Volunteers from the Jamaica Public Service Company who participated in the GraceKennedy Foundation clean-up at Sirgany Beach on July 16. Photos: Khristina Godfrey