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Two Crazy White Chicks on a Pile of Trash!

Imagine the picturesque Bimini Islands. Located just forty two miles east of Miami on the Florida coast, it is the closest of the Bahamian Islands to the United States and just a twenty minute hop by air or a couple of hours by boat. Bimini is so close to us geographically, but yet so very far away in terms of waste management regulations compared to the United States.

I recently visited the island paradise of Bimini. Excited by everything, from the warm crystal clear water to the white sugar sand beaches, the Bahamas has so much to offer, not only to the tourist industry, but to the world in general as a pristine fishing ground. Ernest Hemingway spent years fishing and writing in Bimini and, until a recent fire destroyed it, there was a museum dedicated to the famous author called the Compleat Angler.

I wanted to bring some conch shells to friends back home. You know the ones, they are about ten to twelve inches long, have the large fluted lip and the opening is usually a glossy pink color. The kind of shell you see natives blowing into. All very seaside chic!

My friend Pat and I went looking for conch shells. We had been told that there were mountains of the shells outside some of the restaurants that serve the delightful conch meat. The locals gather the live conch and bring them back to sell. They are then cleaned and the shells are tossed right where they clean them. In other words, right between the restaurant and the water we found enormous piles of shells. In addition, other restaurant trash has collected there. I do not know if the refuse has just floated up from the sea or it is just easier to toss the garbage out the window. YIKES!

I could spend a great deal of time describing the beauty of North and South Bimini. They are truly little gems and then, on the flip side of the coin, the extreme garbage and trash that has been left to pile up on the side of the roads and along some of the harbor ways is not only an eyesore, but a health hazard.

Well, you can just imagine Pat and me scaling this mountain of garbage and shells to find the perfect treasures to bring back home and share with our friends. At one point, one of the locals wandered over and asked us what "two crazy white chicks were doing on that pile of trash". We tried to explain, but I do not think he really understood. In fact, he said that when he got back from whatever important business he had scheduled, if we still needed shells, he would help us out for a small fee! I mean, you have to love that entrepreneurial attitude!

He left us with the warning to be careful, that you could get diseases from playing in the garbage like that. Well, I guess so!

After that, I checked out the waste management situation in Bimini. There is a landfill on South Bimini that gets burned every now and then, but for the most part, the carcasses of dead cars and trucks just rust away, the used oil and batteries get toted back to Florida occasionally and the rest of the waste just hangs out and gets picked over by the birds and other animals. This is not a very healthy situation for people or our environment.

What is the answer to save their fragile island environment? Perhaps these islands ought to consider a high heat thermal process to take care of their waste management needs.

Denise Clarke is a retired Paramedic/Firefighter. She became concerned with the environment after participating in a park dedication in the Everglades in which she met Al Gore. An internet researcher and blogger, Denise wants to learn and share information about our planet. Visit her blog at: http://www.gasification-info.blogspot.com

Source: www.isnare.com