The Nature Foundation spearheaded the “Reduce and Reuse” project in 2018 to develop a framework for combatting plastic pollution and waste. Nature Foundation staff created and carried out a variety of teaching materials, educational presentations, beach clean-ups, and community outreach to encourage residents and businesses to reduce their plastic use and clean up their surroundings. The Foundation also continued advocating for a plastic bag ban, which will be realized in late 2021 with the establishment of the single-use plastics pan on St. Maarten.
On St. Maarten, the use of styrofoam, plastic cups and cutlery, plastic straws and single use plastic bags is widespread and accepted. Single-use plastics are handed out anywhere without discouragement or a fee, and very few establishments provide biodegradable or reusable alternatives.
The “Reduce and Reuse” project was funded through donations from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and the Heineken Regatta.
- Develop educational content, tools, and resources focusing on the consequences of plastic use and pollution
- Encourage residents and businesses to make “eco-friendly” choices on an individual level when possible
- Organize regular beach and roadside clean-ups to reduce the amount of litter waste on St. Maarten
- Advocate for a single-use plastic ban and incentives for businesses to switch to biodegradable or reusable cutlery
- Say no to single-use plastic products like straws, bags, and cups
- Carry a reusable shopping bag, water bottle, spork and cup.
- Use and choose biodegradable alternatives.
- Buy and ask for unpacked vegetables and fruits.
- Lobby businesses to use less plastic and spread the word!
- Only provide straws and bags upon request.
- Use reusable cups and cutlery whenever possible.
- Use biodegradable products made of bamboo, paper
- Advertise your eco-activism!
- Lobby other companies to use less plastic!
St. Maarten has major waste problems due to the poor state of the landfill, frequent toxic landfill fires, and the lack of waste separation management and recycling. The ineffective disposal of waste causes grave concerns on the island, such as air pollution and water and soil contamination.
The landfill reached its maximum capacity in 2008 but continues to be used daily. After Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the landfill input drastically increased and a second dump was created in order to dispose the large amounts of hurricane debris.
Given the presence of so many restaurants and businesses on the island, St. Maarten has the highest municipal solid waste level out of any island in the Caribbean: 9.7 kg per capita per day, compared to Curaçao’s waste generation of 0.44 kg per capita. The Foundation estimates that the Dutch side of St. Maarten uses over 1.4 billion plastic straws a year alone, creating massive waste using only straws.
Littering and the usage of single use plastics are widely accepted on the island, causing garbage bins to overflow and plastic trash to end up in the ocean.
Like nearly all of the world’s oceans and seas, St. Maarten’s waters suffer from a plastic problem. Improperly disposed waste on the island ends up in our ocean, and currents and winds also bring plastic pollution from other countries to our reefs and shores.
With 96% of all marine biodiversity is vulnerable to plastic pollution each year and 100% of our coral reefs are impacted by plastic pollution, many marine animals and birds starve to death. If trends continue at their current rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.