In 2008, when Ecuador overhauled its constitution, it became the first country in the world to give inalienable rights to nature. This dedication to the environment is largely reflected in the country’s national attitude towards conservation of its rich natural habitats, from the depths of the Amazon rainforest all the way to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. On September 30, a group of 876 volunteers made up of both tourists and Galapagos locals, demonstrated this commitment in a practical way, participating in the Ministry of the Environment’s “Action for the Planet Initiative” to clean up the coastal waterways of the Galapagos Islands.

“Cleaning the coasts and beaches to get rid of the garbage and especially the plastics is confronting one of the biggest threats to marine biodiversity,” said Galapagos National Park director Walter Bustos.

By the end of the day, the groups had collected approximately 9600 pounds of garbage across 74 miles of coastline on the four inhabited islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and San Cristobal. The garbage came from a total of 46 visitor sites and was sorted and sent to various landfills or recycling facilities once it had been collected.

These cleanup projects are vital to the marine and coastal habitats as the tourism business continues to expand in the Galapagos Islands. This sacred archipelago is home to endemic species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, but the same ecosystems that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year are very fragile and could vanish if not taken care of by the residents and visitors.

This project not only helped to protect the marine life of the Galapagos but also to beautify the area.

Volunteer Juliana Garzon expressed her happiness about the cleanup effort, explaining that it allows tourists to see the Galapagos Islands in a different light, as a community committed to the cleaning and development of the islands.

With the support of WildAid and under the direction of the National Park, Oswaldo Guayasamin Elementary School even painted a mural that read “+Life -Garbage” in support of these efforts.

Action For The Planet took place all across Ecuador and made a significant impact reducing the amount of litter that destroys the environment and detracts from its natural beauty.