February 15, 2008

Life at the Border:

Volunteers clean the beaches of Tijuana

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Hundreds of volunteers cleaned the beaches of Tijuana last Saturday morning as part of the environmental efforts of the binational organization Wildcoast and the border community.

Event organizer Arturo Angeles explained that people from Tijuana and San Diego helped remove trash from the sand, the boardwalk and the areas surrounding the coast so it doesn’t wind up in the sea.

Angeles, a Wildcoast volunteer, said that the environmental organization he belongs to operates on both sides of the border, just like nature it goes beyond man made fences.

People head from the border fence, reaching out into the ocean in the background, down the beach to pick up trash in Playas de Tijuana during a massive volunteer clean up event. Organizers from the Imperial Beach based environmental group Wildcoast, estimated that 1200 people participated in the clean up. According to Wildcoast, which supports environmental action work along the Baja California peninsula, Playas de Tijuana is one of the most polluted beaches on the coast. Saturday, February 9, 2008. Photo - David Maung

“We have the same air and the same sea, that’s why we should look beyond our citizenship and work together for a clean environment.”

Born in Tijuana, Arturo likes to relax in the beach, but one day he saw that it was terribly littered, so he decided to do something about it.

In the beginning Arturo organized a small group of friends and went down to clean the beach with a handful of garbage bags. Afterwards, they light up a bonfire and play percussions, but the positive response from the community made it grow to the full scale event it is today.

“We want to give Tijuana a good image and prove that it is not just an equivalent of violence” said the event organizer.

“Most people in Tijuana have good hearts and we want clean beaches so tomorrow our children and grandchildren can enjoy them too.”

Albina Pedraza, employee of a large manufacturing company called Smith, was one of the many good hearted people to participate in the event, convinced that if you want to come down with your family and enjoy the beach you should also help keep it clean.

Pedraza and her two daughters arrived at the beach early Saturday morning on two company busses with more than 50 workmates and their families.

“I feel happy participating, because if my children want to come and swim in the water they can cut their feet with the pieces of glass buried in the sand” said Pedraza.

After a few hours volunteers formed a big pile of white plastic bags full of garbage. After the hard work they listened to live bangs and visited the informative stands of environmental organizations.

One of the participants was La Puerta Foundation, who showed an educational project that promotes an innovative system of cleaning, transforming and reusing waste paper.

“I never imagined that we could have such a positive answer like this” said Angeles, “This reflects the good will of the community.”

During the event the Playas delegate, Manuel Figueroa, showed his gratefulness to the environmentalists and his commitment to support future cleaning efforts, so it can attract more volunteers and have a greater impact.

Angeles hopes this event will become a starting point that generates a local movement that cares for environment and the good image of Tijuana, but in the long run he wishes to put together a national coastal cleaning day with the support of Wildcoast.

“This is just the beginning, with time there will be more events, each time with a greater impact.”

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