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Lauren Creary, Programme Director at JET Talks About International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022

by Carolyn Lee Aug 17, 2022

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Lauren Creary, Programme Director at JET Talks About International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022
Lauren Creary, Programme Director at JET.

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is a non-profit organisation started in 1991 whose mission focuses on using education to protect Jamaica’s natural resources, advocacy, and the law to influence individual and organisational behaviour, public policy, and practice.

JET has implemented several major flagship projects and campaigns, including International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC). We spoke with Lauren Creary, Programme Director, who gives some insight on the plans for this year’s ICC day and how you can get involved.

Lauren, how did you get involved with JET?

I started in the events, tourism, and hospitality industry, but I’m motivated by helping others, so I didn’t find those jobs rewarding. I wanted a job that would allow me to make an impact on others while striking a balance between being in an office and out in the field. My mother, Marcia Ford, a Marine Scientist, suggested I apply to JET. She introduced me to environmental management, and I believed that my environmental awareness was heightened based on that exposure. However, when I started working at JET as a project coordinator in September 2018, I quickly realised that I had much more to learn!

Working at JET has been an enlightening experience allowing me to learn more about the island and the issues we face with protecting our natural resources and the wellbeing of our people. From crabs that live in trees and streams within Cockpit Country to the gravity of the climate crisis and why urgent action is needed at all levels, I have learned so much working at JET.

JET focuses on environmental education and advocacy. As Programme Director, I lead the environmental education arm of JET. I’m responsible for the administrative oversight of all the projects we implement.

Lauren Creary, Programme Director at JET Talks About International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022
Volunteers cleaning an area along the coastline during ICC day.

How did JET come into existence?

Our founder, Diana McCaulay, and a concerned group of individuals noticed a lot of garbage during a trip to the Palisadoes. She started JET to create a positive change since there were no beach cleanups or anyone talking about the environment in the news. Since its inception, JET’s membership has fluctuated between 50 and 100 members annually. We currently have over 20 corporate members.

What are some of the major programmes or campaigns implemented by JET?

Our longest-running environmental education programme is the Schools’ Environment Programme (SEP), which was delivered in 300 schools island-wide at its peak. We are currently revamping the programme to restart in the next academic year. JET has also been the national coordinator for International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day since 2008 with the support of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). Two popular projects include Save Cockpit Country and Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica.

JET is one of or maybe the only NGO that has consistently advocated for such a broad range of environmental issues over the years. However, many people are not aware that as Jamaicans we have a right to a healthy environment under the Jamaican Constitution:

“Right to a healthy and productive environment (Section 13(3) l) The Constitution recognises the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of the ecological heritage.”

Lauren Creary, Programme Director at JET Talks About International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022
(L) JET CEO Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie and a volunteer participate in ICC day at the New Causeway Fishing Beach.

You mentioned International Coastal Clean-up Day. Can you share some of the plans that are in place for this year?

International Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday 17 September 2022, and JET is hosting its flagship cleanup at the Palisadoes Go Kart Track for the first time in two years. This will mark our 29th annual cleanup along the Palisadoes. Volunteers can register to participate in JET’s cleanup. Registration opens on 24 August and will close once we reach capacity, as space is limited. People can register as a group with a minimum of five and a maximum of 60 people.

The ICC launch and training sessions for participants will be in August, and we will release a national summary report on the data collected on ICC Day in early 2023. We have always had a strong response from volunteers who want to participate each year, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a focus on the Kingston Harbour since it receives a lot of garbage that washes down from gullies and across the Harbour to surrounding coastlines.

How does registration work?

ICC registration is typically open to groups who want to conduct their cleanups on ICC day; however, registration closed on 9 August. We got over one hundred groups that registered to host their cleanups. JET does not assign sites to the groups, so they can choose the location they wish to work. After registration is closed and all the sites are confirmed, we host training sessions with those groups in Kingston and Montego Bay. Data collection is crucial to what we do, and we want it to be accurate. We provide data cards during the training sessions and ensure that the volunteers correctly understand how to complete them. When the data comes in, we collate it, and it goes into a national report and an international database.

Lauren Creary, Programme Director at JET Talks About International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022
A JET volunteer talks with members of the JET team during ICC day.

What gears will volunteers need to participate in this year’s coastal clean-up?

Coordinators should provide heavy-duty gloves and black and white garbage bags. During the cleanup, separate garbage into plastics for recycling with Type 1, mostly soft plastics beverage bottles, and Type 2, mostly more rigid plastics like engine oil and shampoo bottles. Garbage that can’t be recycled by Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ), includes Styrofoam, plastic food containers, plastic utensils, glass, etc.

We’d like to thank Lauren for sharing with us about this year’s ICC day and the work that JET is doing. To stay updated on this project and other JET campaigns, visit their website and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube).

*All images provided by JET.
Sources: Jamaica Environment Trust (FB) and Lauren Creary at JET.