The Reduce and Reuse night organized by the Nature Foundation St Maarten will teach you about the harmful impacts of trash and single-use plastics on the environment and how you can reduce your own single-use plastic output.
The evening will be organized at Buccaneer Beach Bar on Sunday the 4th of November, the presentation will start at 8pm. Buccaneers and the Nature Foundation will have reusable and biodegradable product examples available to show possibilities to go green.
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, straws, balloons, cups, cutlery and Styrofoam food containers are some of the most environmentally damaging products on the 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.
“One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans. 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies. Time to do something about this and reduce single-use plastics! Come out on our Reduce and Reuse night, learn how to reduce single-use plastics and how to help protect St Maarten’s beautiful nature and environment. The first step to go green is to visit our Reduce and Reuse night’, stated Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern
Last Friday the St Maarten Nature Foundation organized a beach clean-up with students of the Milton Peters College. Thirty students removed 186 pounds of trash from Mullet Bay Beach in just half an hour, by using the Trash Tracker method developed by Ocean Cleanup Organization 4Oceans by weighing all the collected trash and using reusable bags and gloves.
The students also learned about the harmful impacts of littering and trash on our environment, marine life and wildlife. 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!
The students learned how to prevent much unnecessary trash and to reduce their single-use plastic usage by using reusable products, such as a reusable water bottle, take your own shopping bag and us a spork, instead of single-use plastics. All students received a donated reusable water bottle from the Nature Foundation to substitute their plastic water bottles.
“We are proud on these students because of their hard work this day, achievements and willingness to help the environment of St Maarten. These students maybe the future generation to protect our natural environment and that is very much needed on St Maarten! We hope the students will proudly use their donated water bottle and prevent 365 plastic water bottles per year to enter our oceans by using the reusable one. By using reusable products instead of single-use plastics, we are protecting our environment for future generations and reduce our waste output, as we all know the dump is already overfilled. Nature is our Future; let’s keep our island clean and sustainable together” concluded Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation is again calling on Parliament to ban single-use plastic products such as plastic bags, straws and cutlery and styrofoam food containers in an effort to reduce marine litter and pollution on St Maarten. Single use plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental catastrophes of this generation. These types of plastics are also a major contributor to the current situation at the Philipsburg landfill.
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, straws, cutlery and Styrofoam food containers are some of the most environmentally damaging products on the island. These items do not biodegrade and stay in the ecosystem and oceans for ever, 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. Single use plastics are especially harmful to sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, coral reefs and fish that are smothered, choked and otherwise harmed or killed by the plastic products.
“St Maarten uses a remarkable amount of single-use plastics every day, as plastic bags are given for free for every purchased item and plastic straws with any drink. Also takeout food in Styrofoam is normal and very popular, this also includes plastic cutlery. We calculated that Dutch St Maarten alone uses more than 1.4 billion plastic straws a year; straws are used for a few minutes and last forever in the environment. 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 this much single-use plastic waste, our dump is already overfull” stated Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
Worldwide, there is growing interest in protecting the environment and moving away from single-use plastics. Over 200 nations have already either banned items like plastic bags and straws or require consumers to pay a fee per use. Recently even the EU proposed to ban single-use plastic products in order to reduce the massive amount of ocean pollution. The Sint Maarten landfill reached its maximum capacity already in 2008 and garbage bins along beaches are overflowing daily, there is simply no more room for unnecessary waste.
“Single-use plastic products are easy to be replaced with more environmentally sustainable materials; reusable products are highly recommended, such as reusable shopping bags, these bags are much more durable and stronger, the less waste we create the better for our waste problems. Single-use products can easily be substituted by biodegradable products such as paper straws or biodegradable cups and food containers, which are all already available on the island.”
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. Part of the project is to lobby for a Single-use plastic ban, as awareness on its own will not reduce the massive amounts of waste created and left behind on beaches and in the environment. In order to protect our environment for the generations to come, to reduce our landfill and to changes St Maarten’s image of a garbage island into an eco-friendly destination, a ban on single-use plastics is needed. Thanks to the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and the Heineken Regatta for their generous donations towards the Reduce and Reuse project.