As part of a nationwide effort to clear Colombia’s beaches of plastic bottles and non-recyclable waste, on Friday, Palomino’s expanse of sandy beach, joins the #ColombiaLimpia (Colombia Clean) campaign.
A popular destination for travelers visiting Tayrona National Park, Palomino is a beach community nestled on the departmental limits of Magdalena and La Guajira, that has witnessed in recent years a rapid growth in eco-tourism given its lush setting in the foothills of Colombia’s highest coastal mountain range and where the Palomino River, born in the glacial peaks of the Sierra Nevada Caribbean, meets the Caribbean. The convergence of cold and warm waters at the mouth of the Palomino has converted this community into a surfers’ enclave, where large waves and strong currents attract the most experienced in the sport. For those who enjoy more leisurely activities, tubing on the Palomino is another attraction and one that combines stunning scenery with the sound of howler monkeys.
Palomino’s fast rise on the “must visit” list has resulted in a trash collection problem for locals and outsiders, and sadly, much of the man-made refuse that ends up floating in the river or strewn on the beach, is a result of negligence and lack of environmental consciousness. In order to raise awareness of the importance of preserving its sustainable tourism, #ColombiaLimpia will join hotels operators in Palomino, and hundreds of eco-conscious volunteers, for a thorough beach and mangrove cleaning.
This initiative by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) also includes an “Awareness Day” for the community to help teach better waste management practices. Last November, in a similar venture by the ministry, the campaign collected over 400 kilos of garbage from streams, banana groves and the town’s main attraction – the four kilometer long beach.
“Palomino is a destination that we must protect and promote, since tourism represents an opportunity for economic and social development for the local community. This effort in Palomino, together with local authorities, seeks to promote care for the environment and sustainable tourism,” said Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, María Lorena Gutiérrez.
So far, the national campaign #ColombiaLimpia has reached 84 tourism destinations and collected 185 tons of garbage. According to the ministry, 170,000 people have directly benefited from having a cleaner environment and learned the importance of putting trash where it belongs.
Please remember as a tourist not to throw garbage in the places you are visiting. If in doubt, take your trash with you and deposit it in designated bins at your hotel or in larger cities where there is recycling. Many of Colombia’s more remote travel destinations have infrequent, if any trash collection at all.
It is also important to educate others by sharing good environmental practices and explain why plastics and other non-degradable items destroy natural habitats home to endangered creatures. Also, in regions of Colombia, such as the department of La Guajira where Palomino is located, water is a scarce commodity, so best limit your time in the shower and open the tap only when necessary.