Steven Calder and Spike Greve from Soufrière Spring Water with the bottles made 100 per cent from plants. (Robert Luckock photo)
MAHO–Along with “Vendor Alley”, the Sint Maarten/Saint Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) offered space in a “Green Room” for organisations and small entrepreneurs to showcase initiatives and products that reduce the negative effect on the environment. The objective was to create awareness, that there are alternative methods to reduce waste, save energy, save St. Maarten and save the planet.
For many of us who still have bad habits, particularly regarding disposing of waste and not religiously sorting and recycling, a walk through the green room was enlightening.
Green SXM was presented by Alexandra Frye. She has a pilot composting project at home and has processed over the past year two-and-a-half tons of waste, by collecting waste from businesses, restaurants, offices (shredded paper, cardboard. etc.) and turned it into dirt.
“The concept is to encourage individuals, communities, and larger companies to compost their organic waste because 50 per cent of what we send to the landfill is organic in nature,” Frye explained. “All of that could be taken care of and the nutrients returned to the land. The idea is to improve the soil and give more people opportunities to grow and reduce the burden on the landfill.”
It was not surprising that treating waste was the main theme in the green room. Two other initiatives presented included Waste factory Sint Maarten and Waste 2 Work. The latter was started after Hurricane Irma, in collaboration with the Netherlands Red Cross and Stichting Open House, with the objective of making lasting change in sustainability by reducing and reusing waste.
“One of the ways we are doing that is with a training programme for under-privileged youth between 18 and 25 years, who can learn how to reuse waste and make new furniture out of it,” explained Nina Bijnsdorp. “We also support local start-ups and entrepreneurs on the island when they want to open a sustainable business. We also offer workshops to schools, organisations for kids, adults, and tourists who want to learn about up-cycling. We want to foster the awareness that up-cycling can be easily done at home.”
Waste 2 Work displayed interesting pieces of wood furniture decorated with old license plates donated by car rental companies. One item was a lamp made out of a bent license plate.
“SMART has been great for connections; I think it’s perfect to combine business with non-profit”, Bijnsdorp added. “We should incorporate sustainability in business because that’s the only way that we can create real change on the island. We’ve had some great talks with interested companies.”
Waste Factory, located on Front Street, collaborates with Sister Basilia Center and Mental Health Foundation among other collaborations and specializes in recycling, reducing and reusing. The USL laundry for example donates linens from which bags are made.
On another stand, Soufriere Spring Water from Montserrat and distributed by BWA Yachting, showed off its bottle that is made 100 per cent from plants (corn, sugar cane) and takes three months to completely dissolve, but the caps are not yet biodegradable.
The bottle is made in China and the water sourced and bottled in Montserrat. The water is pure and not susceptible to any toxins that could leak when the bottle gets hot, left in a car for example. Even the writing on the bottle comes from plant material. The water is available for purchase and the hope is that it will be available everywhere. “The beauty of this bottle is that it comes from mother earth and goes back to mother earth,” said product representative Spike Greve.
Freegan Food Foundation, presented by Joost de Jong, works to reduce food waste from supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, collecting unused food and redistributes it in poor neighbourhoods.
“30 to 40 per cent of food in supermarkets will never reach any households because it is being thrown away. There’s so much poverty on the island so why not share it out,” Joost reasoned. “We have 17 areas where we distribute on St. Maarten. We also share out clothing, books, whatever people can donate to us.”
SXM Caps, presented by David Mauberret, was started in February 2019. From each cap sold in the shops, a portion goes towards planting trees on the island. Planting of coconut trees began in Friars Bay and this month, trees will be planted in Mullet Bay. Coconut trees were chosen as they are more robust for the climate. “For us the priority after the hurricanes is to give back to the landscape,” said David.
ShareXmobility is an electric-car-sharing concept available since 2016. No one was present on the stand when this newspaper passed through the room, but information can be obtained from