Last Friday the Nature Foundation St Maarten organized a beach clean-up session for students from the Leonald Connor Primary School which took place at Mullet Bay beach. About 25 students collected over 250 pounds of trash in just half an hour. The students learned about the impact of single-use plastics on our environment, marine life and wildlife. Staff and interns of the Nature Foundation educated the students about the importance of coral reefs, threats to corals and what a coral actually is. Students showed fascination about this interesting subject as none of them knew much about corals and reefs.
“Last year we already visited this group of students in their classroom to present about the impacts of single-use plastics on marine life and the environment and how they can reduce their own plastic output by use reusable and biodegradable products. It is great to have them here in the field and show them the large amounts of littering on our beaches. We need to educate the youth about the importance of our natural environment, to keep it clean and protected, to value nature. As a tourist destination we depend on our natural resources and we depend on them for a sustainable future’ stated Nature Foundation’s Projects Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
The clean-up started with a short presentation, to open their knowledge about the danger of pollution and the importance of our coral reefs, continued by an active clean-up of the area and the beach.
“Many waste products such as plastic bottles, cups, spoons, forks, cans, foils, glass bottles and more were found on the beach and collected. The reusable bags were filled with garbage and a lot of single-use plastics, all bags were weighed in order to have a record of the number of waste that was collected using the Trash Tracker method of 4Ocean. The students were very excited to do the clean-up task, as it was a competition and which ever team collected the most garbage, earned a prize” explained Nature Foundation’s Interns Chantal and Latisha.
Littering causes serious negative impacts on nature and our environment. As an island, our trash and garbage washes down to the beaches straight into our oceans. Birds, marine life and wildlife are often found dead with stomachs full of plastic. Research from 2015 shows that 48% of fish tested had plastic in their stomach, by 2050 it is expected to have more plastic in the ocean than fish! All residents and tourists are asked to prevent much unnecessary trash, by reducing their single-use plastic usage and using reusable products instead of single-use plastics, such as a reusable water bottle, take your own shopping bag, us a spork and refuse plastics straws.