Guam – Take a walk by the beach or at one of the island parks or even cruise around the island, what do you see? For many, they see an an island littered with trash – with litterbugs having no respect for the island – Taya Respetu Para I Islan Guahan.
For Gerra Flores, it started out as a trip to the beach with friends but when they got to Paseo the sight of trash littered throughout the area prompted them to take action.
“We were down by the rocks and we noticed there was so much trash floating in the water, so we got a plastic bag in our backseat and we went to go pick it up in the water. As we were walking along the area, we saw that there was more trash so we got two more trash bags and we started picking it up we went different ways,” Flores said in a K57 interview.
She said as they were picking up the trash, a couple deliberately and blatantly threw their trash on the ground for Flores to pick up.
“It wasn’t the first one, there was actually a group before that. Me and my friend were walking. We past by the pavilion already but there was no trash on that side. On our way back on the other side of the pavilion, we saw a lot, so we went to go pick it up and these kids, I know they’re kids, because I kind of argued with them,” she said.
“They were just looking at me picking up trash and then they laughed. Then it was two people who threw their trash in front of me and then I went to pick it up. And there was this little girl who said she was 14 told me this is what I deserve,” Flores added.
Not wanting to make a scene or engage in an altercation, Flores and her friends just smiled and walked away with their bags of trash in tow. Despite the good deed, Flores said she met another hurdle – where to dispose all of the trash collected. Most of the trash receptacles at Paseo were already full. She said she was directed to the Sinajana Mayor’s office.
“So when I talked to this other guy, he told me – ‘one moment, can I just go talk to the mayor first when he came back?’ He said thanks for cleaning up our island, but you can’t keep asking us to throw the trash.” Flores said.
In response to Flores, Sinajana Mayor Robert Hoffman said, “I’m very happy to help Gerra Flores and commend what she’s doing. We wish it wasn’t necessary and people cleaned up and picked up their own messes. It was very unfortunate she had that experience, but it isn’t who we are or what we stand for. Please be careful when handling trash – safety first. Medical waste, banner materials, hazardous materials can end up in the trash stream. It is rare, but it does happen. We are glad to offer her water and trash bags and gloves. We are having our own village clean up on May 11. We wish her the best.”
Flores said she will be organizing an island wide beach cleanup. Details of the event are pending.