MULLET BAY–Nature Foundation has embarked on a project aimed at encouraging residents and island visitors to “reduce and reuse” their plastic output.
The “Reduce and Reuse St. Maarten” project is designed to teach and encourage residents, children and businesses to reduce their waste output and clean up the environment.
The use of Styrofoam, plastic cups and cutlery, plastic straws and single-use plastic bags is very common and is handed out without discouragement or a fee. This project will try to change that and stimulate a switch to biodegradable and reusable products.
The new project will be also pushing for the plastic bag ban, something Nature Foundation has been requesting for a long period. The need for more garbage bins around the country, beaches and during events will be addressed as well, at the moment the shortage of bins provides excuses to litter and leave your trash behind.
A beach cleanup on Mullet Bay Beach was conducted on April 18, to kick off the new project. About 15 volunteers removed 294 pounds of trash from the beach. They used the “Trash Tracker” method, developed by Ocean Cleanup Organisation 4Oceans, to weigh all collected trash and used reusable bags and gloves.
Trash collected during the cleanup has been documented and will be used as research information to encourage restaurants, residents and visitors to go plastic-free, said the Foundation.
There is a renewed momentum in the country to not use single-use plastics items. A number of establishments are going plastic free, including many restaurants and bars such as Buccaneer Beach Bar, The Dinghy Dock and Karakter Beach Bar. Divi Little Bay Beach Resort will be completely straw free when they reopen in May.
“All of these developments are awesome and we support and encourage them and more businesses to recognise how dangerous plastics are to our health and environment. Hopefully through this new project we can give the necessary support and feedback to make single plastics a thing of the past on the island,” said the Foundation.
St. Maarten has major waste problems due to poor waste management, frequent toxic landfill fires, no waste separation and no recycling. The ineffective disposal of waste causes grave concerns regarding public health, air pollution, and water and soil contamination.
Research has also shown that St. Maarten has the highest municipal solid waste of the Caribbean at 9.7 kilogrammes per capita per day, compared to Curaçao’s waste generation of 0.44 kilogrammes.
Littering and the use of single-use plastics is widely accepted on the island, causing garbage to lay around and plastic trash to end up in our oceans, impacting and affecting our environment, corals, fish, birds and wildlife.
As a non-profit and non-governmental organisation focussed on protecting nature and environment on St. Maarten, Nature Foundation wants to make steps to reduce single-use plastics and littering, and promote biodegradable and reusable products to address the waste problem.