How I got American Samoa on the map for World Cleanup Day 2018

Sep 15, 2018Culture, Lifestyle, Sustainable Living

Happy World Cleanup Day everyone!

That’s today (September 15) in case you didn’t already know, and I don’t blame you because I literally just learned about it on Thursday morning! I emailed the 2 contact folks for World Cleanup Day in the USA to see how I could get involved, and after a flurry of emails, I had unknowingly signed up to be Team Leader for American Samoa’s participation in World Cleanup Day!

What is World Cleanup Day?

Essentially, World Cleanup Day is one day of clean up efforts around the world. It started in Estonia 10 years ago when just 4% of the country’s population made one major mission: to clean up the whole country in 1 day… yes, that’s 24 hours!!! This sparked World Cleanup Day as a recognized civic holiday, now in its 2nd year, and with support worldwide! From Fiji to New Zealand, to India, to the UAE, Argentina, USA, and now American Samoa. Millions of people around the world took a pledge to do their part, big and small, on this particular day to address the issue of trash and waste in our environments.

On top of these initiatives, there is a huge media movement that follows cleanups from 150+ participating countries. A live feed was broadcasted online, tracking the cleanup progress around the world on September 15 at the start of the International Date line in New Zealand… and because of my outreach, American Samoa was officially dubbed the final destination for the 2018 World Cleanup Day! WOOHOO! You can find a screencap of the Live video broadcast here.

Cool! Now what?

I was actually really excited to get such great feedback from Jim Sharman and Steve Jewett, the representatives for Let’s Do It! World and National Cleanup Day. But because I had just found out about the whole movement only 12 hours before it was to begin on the other side of the International Dateline, I really only had a day to make plans.

*Warning: Long Post ahead!*

A Community, A Cleanup

Bluesky Cleanup / Laufou Shopping Center

I was doing all of this — sending emails back and forth, gathering information on World Cleanup Day, and telling my friends about the Coconut Point beach clean up — all during an off-site video shoot for work, and when I told my coworker Lauren, she suggested I ask our company to get involved. That was a great idea! I emailed my HR and Marketing managers and they said that if I could arrange it outside of working hours on such short notice, the company would sponsor trash bags, gloves, and a light breakfast. I was stoked! Soon after, I sent out the email asking for volunteers to show up an hour before work the next morning so we could clean up around our building. I knew not a lot of people could make it because it was outside of work hours, and a few of the departments were extra busy. But thankfully, we got a good group together and collected 100 gallons of trash; mostly cigarette butts, small plastics, and styrofoam.

Photos from our Friday, September 14 / Laufou Shopping Center cleanup at 7:30am

Capstone Cleanup / Lion’s Park

This incredible group of citizen scientists are members of Capstone AOG church. They already do monthly cleanups (working with the AS Coral Reef Advisory Group as volunteers to collect waste and extract data from what they gather), but when they learned about #WorldCleanupDay just 2 days ago (I told Ian, Ian told his coworker, and his coworker told her church group), they decided to do an extra one this month at the Lion’s Park!! We joined them this morning at 7am this morning and found a LOT of soda cans, water bottles, styrofoam cups and plates, plastic cutlery, chip bags—you name it!—just littered everywhere, ESPECIALLY on the shoreline! But I just wanna shout out this awesome group who made it fun, and made a big impact in just a couple of hours! Big thanks to Pa’i from the NPS Green Team for setting this up, and to Bluesky American Samoa for providing trash bags and gloves!

Photos from Saturday, September 15 / Lion’s Park cleanup at 7:00am

A Live Intermission

With an hour between the 7am cleanup at Lion’s Park and our 9:30am Coconut Point beach cleanup, I got a call from Jim Sharman, the Let’s Do It! World coordinator. He wanted to share information about American Samoa on the international live broadcast, and officially dub us the final destination for the 2018 World Cleanup Day! I was soooo excited to see them raise our flag, set it on the map, and then see the producer run in and write out ‘AMERICAN SAMOA’ next to our speck of an island, because people were getting us confused with our sister island, the independent country of Samoa. It was awesome, and it honestly felt so good to know that I played the part in making that happen.

Beach Cleanup / Coconut Point

Now THIS is the beach that I call home! This community is diverse, changing, and impactful. As soon as I learned about WCD, I immediately started a group chat about a beach cleanup, and everyone jumped on it! This morning, we started at 9:30am and in just a short amount of time, collected a lot of single use plastic and styrofoam, cans and water bottles, electrical wires, and old clothes that probably got left behind on the beach. It was a great feeling to see our beautiful beach for what it is, without the rubbish, and an even better feeling to be surrounded by a rad group of friends!

Photos from Saturday, September 15 / Coconut Point beach cleanup at 9:30am

From what I’ve learned in the last few days, it’s that people are interested and want to take part in effecting change. It’s just a matter of reaching out and getting stoked! And every bit of effort counts! Of course, this was only possible because of everyone who participated. Ya’ll are amazing! If you’re still reading, WOW. And fa’afetai tele lava from American Samoa, your final destination of the 2018 World Cleanup Day!


  1. Elaine

    Ohmigosh, I love this blog story!! So inspiration, Relly! Good job to you and everyone that participated! Oh and I love the new look of your blog! <3 Maybe it’s not so new? Lol. I guess I haven’t been on here in a long while. Kudos girlfriend!

  2. Mr. Manuma

    Keep up with the good work, Relly 🙂 Thanks for being an inspiration to the people of American Samoa. Malo Lava!

    • nerelle

      Aw thank you so much! It’s teamwork! 😃

  3. Lyn Camargo

    Great job everyone! And Relly, you are such an inspiration. Keep up the amazing work!

    • nerelle

      Thank you Lyn, love you!!! 💛

  4. Amuia

    Thanks for sharing Nerelle… Awesome job everyone and thank you all!!!

    • nerelle

      Thanks Amuia! We love our community, and our beautiful home 🌺

  5. Ian

    You rock Rel!!

    • nerelle

      Couldn’t have done it without you babe! I mean I probably could, but I’d rather do it with ya lol 💕

  6. Noni

    Great job, Relly!

    • nerelle

      Thanks Dad!! ❤️


Leave a Reply

Culture Photo Diaries

FAPAC ava ceremony demonstration

Some photos I snapped at a little gathering for the first American Samoa chapter of Federal Asian Pacific American Council...

Sessions: Kelley’s Maternity + Family

An off-the-beaten-path location in our backyard lagoon with 3 paddle boards, 1 kayak, 4 adults, 2 dogs, 1 toddler, and...
Lifestyle Travel

Ofu: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

That is the question... Ofu deserves more of my time, right? This is my only ‘worry’ of the entire two...
Lifestyle Sustainable Living Travel

Coconut Crab for NYE Dinner

Coconut crabs are suuuuper delicious, but it doesn't mean that we should be taking more than we need. A lovely...

Sewing in the studio

Designing some new pieces. Trying to do math. Pulling out a an assortment of fabrics. Measuring if I have enough...

Sunset dates out west

We love spontaneous date nights around the island. I don't always take my camera on date nights, but when I...
Culture Lifestyle Photography

Around Pago Plaza – Street Photography

The next stop on Gabby's errands was a visit to Pago Plaza. I snapped these photos, and actually I love...

Things I’m Grateful For Today

This giant clam shell still intact. The glow of sunlight through the windows in the studio. The mangroves in the...
Lifestyle Photography

Geeking out about the New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration because…

They published two of my photos!!! And I'm listed as a contributing author!!! This ocean exploration supplement is available in...
Journal Lifestyle

This is 30.

On March 18, 1992, an angel descended upon Earth in the form of a little girl, and her name was...
Photo Diaries

Scruff in the yellow sun

Some pics I took one evening in October while Officer Scruffles sat perched on the railing looking like a cute...

I’d rather be here



Pacific Roots Open Mic

Post open mic night pics with friends. January 2020 photos from Alafaga.

Even just 20 minutes of vacation is so good for the soul

Summer’s coming

The tradewinds are calming down. It's bittersweet knowing that summer is on its way. I'll miss the breeze but I...

View from our Thursday yoga seshes in Utulei

Last night, I asked my neighbor's 7 year old daughter "T" if she remembered my name, and this is what...
Lifestyle Photo Diaries

Quarantine Diaries: Saving money during coronavirus frenzy

The coronavirus is causing catastrophe across the world... on the vein of financial impacts, I’ve luckily been able to save...
Lifestyle Photo Diaries

Virtual Palm Sunday

I just finished tuning in to my church's live stream service and now reflecting on my week.