SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) – The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) St. Maarten, supports the collective effort of several foundations and initiatives to ban single-use plastic on St. Maarten. A half year ago, the Foundation made the step to ban the use of styrofoam lunchboxes from its own kitchen.
The kitchen where to food for its clients is prepared also gives the staff the option to buy lunch. And while the clients received their lunches on plates, the staff used to receive their lunches in styrofoam boxes. Because of sustainable considerations globally but also the growing dump on St. Maarten, Interim Director Eileen Healy decided to ban the styrofoam and instead make the staff use reusable lunch bowls.
When the announcement came, there was some resistance. However, this only took about two weeks, and then everyone got used to bringing their lunch bowls as if nothing had changed. The kitchen prepares the same amount of food now as they did before, but without 2 to 3 plastic bags full of Styrofoam boxes going to the dump.
The new policy even created increasing environmental awareness among the staff. Staff used to complain about the dump while at the same time throwing their empty Styrofoam box in the garbage bin, and now they even take their lunch boxes with them when they purchase lunch outside MHF!
People, in general, don’t like change. However, this example shows that the idea of change is often perceived as more negative and difficult than the actual change, and people are also excellent at adapting to new situations. The environmental issues in the world and on the island aren’t dissolved overnight, and yes, we still have a long way to go.
However, this can’t be a reason to stick our head in the sand and pretend the problem is not there or saying that we are too small to do anything about it. If you want, there are so many ways in which you can make a change no matter how big it is.
For example, look at the gigantic social impact that the Freegan Food Foundation makes every day! We believe that if we collectively recognize that this is an issue we want to solve, we can make sure St. Maarten stays the beautiful island that we all know and love.
The MHF will continue to look for ways to become more sustainable in the future and encourages other NGOs, companies, and politics to do the same.