This year’s International Coastal Cleanup will not be the same as we used to celebrate it due to the ongoing pandemic.

Across the world, lockdowns, social distancing measures and wearing of face masks are still required to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID) 2019. This pandemic has affected the economies of countries across the globe, threatened food security, and agricultural production. Measures to halt its devastating effects to human lives include avoidance of large gatherings and public places where economic activities occur.

Despite the restrictions which limit mass movement, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 will conduct this year’s International Coastal Cleanup on September 19, 2020 at the Iloilo Esplanade with a small number of participants to observe physical distancing and avoid huge number of volunteers to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

With the theme: “Safe Oceans Start at Home”, the DENR 6 is encouraging the public to be more vigilant in practicing proper solid waste management right at home. Afterall, the strongest advocates to support proper solid waste management are families – the smallest unit in our societies.

The Ocean Conservancy, an international nonprofit environmental advocacy group that led the ICC event, adopted the #CleanOn and has urged ocean lovers to celebrate ICC 2020 in a community. We can go individual or small-scale, observe social distancing while cleaning up our neighborhood, and we can all start at our homes. What to start with? We can begin with waste segregation by choosing only residual wastes (solid waste materials that are non-compostable and non-recyclable) to go into the trash bin for collection. By doing this, we help lessen the bulk of waste that reaches the sanitary landfill.

“For many years, we have celebrated the ICC with hundreds or even thousands of participants. The Philippines once ranked No. 1 in the number of volunteers worldwide. But with this “new normal”, we only wanted a few volunteers to avoid the spread of coronavirus disease,” said regional executive director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. of DENR 6.

“Our small acts of properly managing our wastes at home contribute to clean oceans. Small acts together also create huge impact for the protection of our marine ecosystems. Let us all practice that every day is a coastal clean-up day,” Milla added.

Aside from the clean-up, the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of DENR 6 will also be guesting at the radio program titled Ikaw kag ang Imo Palibot aired over DYLL 585-Radyo Pilipinas. The CDD will talk about the importance and significance of the ICC celebration.

Coastal cleanup drives like the ICC support the Clean Water Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which are included in the top ten priority programs and projects of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

The ICC is an annual event that has rallied on more than 12 million people in joining this biggest volunteer effort in protecting the ocean.