The Nature Foundation is calling on all businesses, stores, bars, restaurants, tour operators and event organizers to start using biodegradable and reusable products instead of single-use plastics. Single-use plastic is one of the biggest environmental catastrophes of this generation and a major contributor to the current situation at the Philipsburg landfill. A lot of our single-use plastics end up in our environment and ocean due to littering and poor garbage disposal. Besides, St Maarten just cannot handle the large amount of single-use plastic waste, our dump is already overfilled.
“All businesses can contribute to reduce the single-use plastics on our island and reduce the input of these toxic materials to our environment and landfill. Biodegradable disposable products are already available on our island; the more businesses will shift to biodegradable alternatives the lower the prices will go and availability will increase. Paper straws, paper or sugar cane plates, bamboo plates, biodegradable cups, paper food containers, paper bags, wooden cutlery and much more are all already available on St Maarten and carried by suppliers such as PDG and Merchants Market. Businesses do not have to use single-use plastics, which are impacting and damaging our environment, nature and even us. We are asking all establishments to go green and reduce their single-use plastics, to use reusable products or biodegradable products instead” stated Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
At least 9 million tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year, a rate that has increased 100 times in the past 40 years. If current trends continue there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Single use plastic bags, plastic straws, cutlery and Styrofoam food containers are some of the most environmentally damaging products on our island. These items do not biodegrade and stay in the ecosystem and oceans forever, causing impacts to the environment, animals and humans. Plastic releases harmful chemicals when it breaks down into smaller pieces that are ingested by marine life and eventually humans.
“Several businesses already switched to biodegradable alternatives instead of single-use plastics, such as Dinghy Dock Bar, Buccaneers Beach Bar and Coconut Reef Tours. We very welcome these initiatives and hope many more businesses will follow. Any business, store, bar, restaurant or tour operator who would like to receive more information about the possibilities to switch to biodegradable and reusable alternatives for single-use plastics can contact the Nature Foundation” continued Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Nature Foundation’s Project Officer.
All around the world eco-tourism is in the rise and plastic free movements are getting more popular as the tremendous impacts of single-use plastics are inescapable. To keep St Maarten a popular destination for the future and to protect our natural beauty, the change to a more eco-friendly destination need to be made including the use of biodegradable and reusable products. Through the Reduce & Reuse St Maarten’ project, the Nature Foundation is fighting plastic pollution and is teaching and encouraging residents, children and businesses to reduce their plastic waste output and clean-up the environment.
Picture 1: Every day several Styrofoam food containers are fished out by the Nature Foundation from the Simpson Bay lagoon.
Picture 2: Single-use plastics views in our natural environments are ordinary instead of being the exception.