Earth Day activities benefit enviornment on Okinawa
GINOWAN CITY, OKINAWA, Japan -- Service members stationed at Camps Kinser and Hansen and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma celebrated Earth Day with various activities April 22-26.
Events included environmental awareness programs, sea wall cleanups and picking up litter islandwide and were open to everyone, according to Jared Sawin, the environmental protection specialist for environmental affairs branch, G-F, Facilities, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler.
“Each installation usually does an Earth Day event as part of their awareness campaign,” said Shawn Williams, the environmental coordinator for Camp Kinser. “(Camp Kinser) holds the event for two reasons: to clean up the environment because it is the only one we have and to be good friends to our neighbors.”
MCAS Futenma held a weeklong event called Earth Week to educate its service members on environmental topics.
“As part of Earth Week, we had environmental inspection teams go through all of the buildings on the station in an effort to increase awareness,” said Aleksandra Kirk, the environmental protection specialist for MCAS Futenma. “We also had recycling collection points set up, a written quiz about environmental awareness and a slideshow playing in the mess hall.”
Each event gave Marines and sailors stationed aboard MCAS Futenma a chance to decrease their environmental impact while also competing against one another.
“We had a competition between the units on the station,” said Kirk. “When we went through their living quarters and work areas, we looked for properly separated recyclables, closed doors and windows, leaking faucets and lights left on. These, in conjunction with the written quiz, were combined to give each unit a score. The top squadrons were awarded plaques for the best general environmental awareness and recycling.”
To conclude Earth Week, Marines and sailors were given a chance to come together and give back to the community by conducting a cleanup in Ginowan City.
“The citizens of Ginowan City are really appreciative of the Tropical Beach sea wall and beach cleanup,” said Col. James G. Flynn, the commanding officer of MCAS Futenma. “This is our first year doing this cleanup, and by doing this we have the opportunity to enhance our relationship and understanding with the citizens of Ginowan.”
The service members from the air station were not the only participants in the cleanup, as citizens of Ginowan City also came out to help.
“I appreciate that (the service members) took the time to volunteer here,” said Morine Seiso, the director of Hagoromo Park management in Ginowan City.
“Tropical Beach is one of the more popular destinations for tourists and local citizens. It is unfortunate that people throw trash on the beach, and we thank (the service members) for helping us.”
Throughout the afternoon, the volunteers scoured the beach and sea wall searching for litter and recyclables.
“Before we got out here, I did not think that we were going to find a lot of trash,” said Lance Cpl. Calie Jacobsen, an aircraft intermediate level hydraulic, pneumatic mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “I was surprised at how much we found.”
Picking up litter along a beach and sea wall is the first step of many for service members getting involved on Okinawa.
“The cleanup is a step in the right direction,” said Sgt. Maj. Brent L. Cook, the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma sergeant major. “This is going to open up opportunities for us to start doing bigger and better things with the community, and we want to be good friends with all of our neighbors around the air station and throughout Okinawa.”