Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: In an effort to raise awareness of the dangers that non-biodegradable waste poses to Papua New Guinea’s coastline and marine environment, employees of the American Embassy in Port Moresby and members of the PNG Olympics Committee fanned out along Douglas Street in front of the Embassy on October 5 to conduct a massive clean-up campaign.
More than 57 participants collected over 1,000 kg of rubbish, glass and plastic bottles, plastic bags, bottle caps, betel nut skins, and other waste that had been carelessly discarded all along Douglas Street. These items not only mar the environment of Port Moresby, but they make their way into drains, streams and rivers, eventually ending up in the ocean along our coastline where they have significant impacts on marine life.
The litter problem throughout PNG affects public places and many sporting venues. Littering, dumping, and burning of waste are commonplace. This affects tourism, the marine environment and also impacts people’s health: fish that people eat can be contaminated by consuming plastics, toxic smoke from burning rubbish is extremely poisonous and rubbish also makes a perfect home for mosquitos to breed and spread diseases.
The Embassy has made a strong commitment to going green and protecting the environment in and around Port Moresby. It has initiated a Green Team Steering Committee to search for activities and events that it can support to sustain an ongoing campaign of ecological conservation.
The clean-up event on October 5 was inspired by a presentation that the NGO Sustainable Coastlines PNG made to Embassy employees. The Embassy is supporting the conservation organization’s “Love Your Coast” tour in Papua New Guinea, and wants to draw attention to the upcoming “Klinim Mosbi Campaign” which will run from October 17 to November 13.
The National Capital District Commission also helped with the Douglas Street clean-up by providing plastic bags and gloves for the Embassy to use, and by hauling the rubbish to the city’s landfill at Baruni.
“Cleaning up the environment in the vicinity of Embassy Port Moresby was just one aspect of our ongoing green campaign,” said U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray, who was out on the street with the rest of her staff. “Even more important is raising awareness of the effects of non-biodegradable waste to enable people to make better decisions around what they consume and how they dispose of it.”