Category Archives: TCI Rubbish Runners

Rubbish Runners and the Lower Bight Park and Botanical Garden Clean-Up

In mid January I welcomed my father to Turks and Caicos for his first post retirement extended winter holiday. With an unprecedented six weeks to spend we managed to see most of Providenciales, and several highlights of North Caicos and Middle Caicos as well.  During the majority of our excursions, we accomplished a great deal of Rubbish Running, like the below pictured afternoon spent at South Bluff. 
I actually had to retire my year and a half old trusty, dusty Rubbish Runners bag due to a broken handle from all of our combined garbage collection from beaches and roads, bushes and back alleys.  I estimate that bag carried an average of 5-10 pounds of trash per day, five to six days a week, for approximately 18 months.  What a bag right!?  Must have been very strong to carry everything from heavy metals and glass bottles, to aluminum and steel cans, to sand covered Styrofoam, shoes, and food packaging. In actuality that plastic bag was designed for a one time, SINGLE use.  If you live on island, you most likely have one of these plastic bags in your possession and are familiar with the blue and yellow KISCHO logo.  Please put these bags to good use! Don’t throw them away, as you have just read these bags have a lot of life to give, far more endurance than some of the “environmentally friendly” options being sold at the local grocery stores.  These bags make excellent reusable shopping bags.  Here is my brand new bag with it’s inaugural Rubbish Run load.
On my father’s last day, outfitted with large bags to collect trash, we traveled to Northwest Point meaning to snorkel but the large swell dictated we go elsewhere.  On our way to Coral Gardens we stopped by the Lower Bight Childrens Park and Botanical Garden.   I had last visited the garden at the invasive-species-workshop nearly a year ago and was heavily disappointed to see the a further deterioration versus improvement, as we discussed was needed at that point in time.  Invasives like cow bush and causarina were sprinkled in every direction and thick coats of love vine blanketed the majority of the grounds.  Signage indicated to species long dead or in some cases different species that had taken over.   This park is one of the only only free, open to the public,  environmental educational resources we have in the Turks and Caicos.  It is extremely important that it is maintained properly for it sends the very valuable message to locals and visitors alike; to discover, appreciate, and protect our rare eco-system.
While perusing the grounds the park warden came over explained that the garden had been cut off from water through financial burden and apologized for its condition stating that next year it would be better.  I tried explaining that these species are indigenous and should be well adapted to surviving only off the water that Mother Nature gives, no irrigation system needed.  The problem is that the little nourishment they are receiving is being robbed by the species that should not be here.  One thing I learned from the wondrous-west-indian-wetlands-workshop, it is far better to show then to tell!
 Last Saturday, February 25th, the TCI Environmental Club along with volunteers from the Gansevoort and the DECR participated in a clean-up of the Lower Bight Park and Botanical Garden.  In this way we were able to discuss and demonstrate simultaneously.
Love vine before (above) and the heaping piles of it during removal (below).
A before image (above) of the Prickly Pear cactus being strangled by love vine, which eventually kills the host species over time, and an after image below.. 
It is truly amazing what a small team of dedicated individuals can accomplish in five hours.  The botanical garden is now freed from thousands of feet of love vine, at least fifty cow bush and more than a dozen causarinas.  Dead species have been cleared away, leaving resources for fresh new species to grow.   In total a dozen volunteers were able to clear this huge pile pictured behind us, a job very well done.  This success would not have been possible without the involvement of the Gansevoort; special thanks to Trem Quinlan and Rob Ayer who not only fully supported the idea, but physically showed up and volunteered their efforts.  Also large thanks to Eric Salamanca from the DECR for his labor, dedication, and new adoption of the park and garden!  I look forward to seeing it blossom and thrive under he and his wardens care.

Eco Update

 Image via here

It has been a very busy start to 2012!  In early January, marine biologist Lee Munson arrived in Turks and Caicos to study the impact of tourism, specifically snorkeling, on humpback whales.  This valuable research is taking place in salt cay thanks in part to Debbie of Salt Cay Divers attendance of the Wider Caribbean Mammal Conference held in Panama late last year.  You may keep posted on their findings at .saltcaydivers.blogspot.

  On January 23rd, we attended Big Blue Unlimiteds EXPO 2012 held at Opus Wine Bar and Restaurant.  We were thrilled to join many in celebrating this company’s 12th year of ecotourism as well as honoring their local eco-partners with awards and applause.  The Turks and Caicos Islands are so very fortunate to have this company that stands firmly behind their eco philosophy of combining “culture, ecology, education, and adventure” for guests ultimate experience of nature in the Turks and Caicos.  Please see the article in the tcfreepress to read more about their upcoming education program with local schools and to read the bios of the ecotourism award winners of the evening.
Rubbish from SDC on Vimeo.

  Big thanks to Big Blue instructor Wes Matweyew for making the above video encouraging everyone in the Turks and Caicos to be mindful of littering and demonstrating how lifting litter can become part of your outdoor or active lifestyle!  Thanks for being a Rubbish Runner Wes!

 Before and After photos of the restoration project

At the February TCI Environmental Club meeting we listened to guest speaker Jody Rathgeb discuss her new book Fish-Eye-Lens; fiction but based on development and it’s environmental and cultural impact on a small island.  David Stone also presented news on the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund‘s first annual cocktail party and fundraiser.  Having attended the fundraiser last Saturday night, I am happy to report the evening was a great success.  Guests were in large attendance and the auction and raffle were well supported.  We look forward to the organisations 2012 efforts to keep TCI reefs protected, healthy, and thriving.

The next TCIEC event is right around the corner, please some show your support.  There will be a much needed clean up and pruning of the Bight Park from 7am to 12noon this Saturday February 25th.  Come one, come all, and please bring along some drinking water, garden gloves, trash bags, and gardening tools if you can.

Caribbean Wellness Day & TCI Rubbish Runners

Images above from a turksandcaicosproductions shoot for self

 Today, Saturday Sept.11, marks Caricoms third annual celebration of Caribbean Wellness Day.  This years theme is “Love that Body, Make it Last.”  To read up on how this great initiative was started, and the top illnesses affecting the Caribbean region, please see the official press release.  Participate in the Turks and Caicos, see the schedule of events here
  The TCI Rubbish Runners are 100% behind Caribbean Wellness Day, and thanks to the recent article in the Free Press (quoted below), hopefully more of the community will join us in keeping lean while keeping TCI green!
“While many of us have finished mopping up floors, moving furniture back to its usual locations, and clearing debris from yards, the evidence of Hurricane Irene’s aftermath is still lingering on our beautiful beaches. One community group is working diligently to get our shores back in shape while keeping in shape is the TCI Rubbish Runners. Begun as a branch of the TCI Environmental Club nearly a year ago, the group aims to spread awareness about littering and other environmental issues impacting the Turks and Caicos Islands while encouraging healthy living. Founder and recreational runner Stacie Steensland believes a great recipe for living a healthy lifestyle involves time spent in nature, daily exercise, and making a positive impact
in our community.“A rubbish runner can accomplish all three in as little as 20 minutes per day,” Steensland says. “The club invites all individuals in the community to partake in weekly exercise, but instead of focusing solely on your own health, spend some energy on the health of the environment you are enjoying.
“Litter plagues our planet, and here in this biodiversity‘hot spot’ with thousands of species to protect and preserve, it is all the more relevant to eradicate it.” Steensland emphasizes that all anyone has to do to become a Rubbish Runner is to pick up trash — on a morning stroll, on a post-work jog, on a play day at the beach, or even while “running”daily errands. That’s it. No meetings, no fundraisers, no collective decision
making. Membership is as easy as enjoying the great outdoors and leaving it a better place than when you found it. Public trash receptacles, virtually nonexistent until recently, now make rubbish running even easier, thanks to TCI Waste Disposal Services’ placement of both garbage and recycling bins at several beach
accesses.  Steensland, who began picking up litter regularly in Providenciales in 2006, says the practice came to her as second nature, having watched her father pick up trash all her life. “When I was young, I found
his habit somewhat embarrassing, especially those times in busy parking lots where many bystanders would raise eyebrows. Now those bystanders look oddly at both my father and I, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Steensland, a creative designer for TC Millwork who specializes in refinishing and reclaimed wood furnishings and cabinetry, in some instances converts the trash she finds into treasures. Recently, stray planks from a shipwrecked sloop were transformed into a kitchen island, and a downed tree was made into a table base. TCI Rubbish Runners could use your help to make the TCI a cleaner, greener place to live. To find out more, visit the Rubbish Runners facebook page or see

Beach Monitoring of Bleach Bottles

Last month I started seeing loads of bleach bottles washed up on Longbay beach.  I posted a message on the TCI Environmental Club and Rubbish Runners facebook pages, inquiring if others had been encountering the same issue.  The responses came pouring in.  I decided to take a count of the finds for the month of July.  The above photo was found my first week, tally of approximately one dozen bleach bottles, 1 vinegar bottle, and 3 unknown squeeze bottles.  As of yesterday, here is what that original list grew to:
Approximately one dozen large bleach bottles, 31 large squeeze bottles, 8 smaller sized squeeze bottles, 7 vinegar squeeze bottles, and 2 mystery squeeze bottles.  Grand total of over 50 bottles of bleach.  Frightening considering these were all removed from a small stretch, roughly 3 miles, of shoreline in Longbay.  Imagine how many must be washing up all over Providenciales?  Over Middle, North, South and the entire Turks and Caicos.  Imagine the huge quantities that must be floating up on shores all over the Caribbean.  Although the vast majority of these bottles are labeled in Spanish, there is no telling where they came from and what they were used for.  One can only hope that they were not used illegally for catching lobsters, or otherwise leached into our oceans.  Nearly ten years ago the DECR began to combat this practice locally with a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding with the SFS-CRMS.  The School of Field Studies developed a portable test kit in 2005 to be able to detect the use of bleach using a swab test (please read the entire article here).  This year the DECR implemented a delay of lobster season to September, hoping to allow stocks more time to recover from shrinking numbers over the last few years.  If these found bleach bottles are indeed being used illegally, that amendment will be virtually powerless against this awful practice.  If you find bleach bottles here in the Turks and Caicos, please contact the DECR to report your findings.

Shop with Thought!

  One week from tomorrow on Saturday June 4th, the TCI Environmental Club will host a World Environment Day event as part of our Campaign to Ban Single Use Plastic Bags in the TCI.  We are looking for volunteers to help us distribute FREE reusable shopping bags to the community from 9am -12noon at the Graceway Gourmet, Graceway IGA, Building Materials, Island Pride, KB Home Center, Price Club, and Quality Supermarkets.  Please contact Stacie Steensland at, or call Lynn Robinson on 431-5966 to join the movement to keep the
Image from here