Nature Foundation St Maarten Organizes Reduce and Reuse night at Buccaneers Beach Bar

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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

MPC High School Students Learn about Impacts of Littering, how to Reduce Single-use Plastics and Clean-up Mullet Bay Beach

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.

Nature Foundation Applauds Businesses Switching to Reusable and Biodegradable Alternatives to Single-use Plastics

toppers' crew

Recently the well-known bar and restaurant Topper’s switched to using only reusable and biodegradable products instead of environmentally damaging single-use plastics. Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern presented the Reduce and Reuse St Maarten project to Staff members of Topper’s, explaining them about the harmful effects of single-use plastics  on our environment, ourselves and on marine life and what can be done to reduce single-use plastic usage.

“At least 9 million tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year, 96% of all marine biodiversity is vulnerable to this plastic pollution. Half of all sea turtles mistake plastic for food and 90% of all seabirds ingest plastic. If current trends continue, a lot of marine life will die and there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Single use plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic cups, balloons, 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. They release a variety of chemicals during degradation, which have a negative impact on organisms, us and our ecosystems. New research even shows that plastic breakdown accelerates greenhouse gas production in the environment” explained Nature Foundation’s Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

Nature Foundation applauds Topper’s Bar and Restaurant, and several other businesses which already switched to reusable and biodegradable alternatives instead of single-use plastics, such as Dinghy Dock Bar, Buccaneers Beach Bar, Lagoonies and Coconut Reef Tours, for the initiative to go green. These responsible businesses will contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable St Maarten for future generations.

Recently several businesses were requested by the Nature Foundation to switch to reusable and biodegradable alternatives instead of using single-use plastics. “We did not receive any response yet, however we hope that the invited businesses are thinking about the opportunity and will switch eventually to a more environmental friendly product. In the coming months more and more businesses, tour operators and organizations on St Maarten will be requested to make the switch as well and go green” continued Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

Anyone interested in receiving more information about the impact of single-use plastics and using reusable and biodegradable alternatives instead, can contact the Nature Foundation. Thanks to the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and the Heineken Regatta for their generous donations towards the Reduce and Reuse St Maarten project.

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Staff of Toppers Bar with Nature Foundation Projects Officer Melanie Meijer zu Scholchtern

Nature Foundation Urges Government and Businesses to Reduce Single-Use Plastics New Research Reveals Link to Climate Change

The Nature Foundation has repeatedly asked both government and businesses to ban and reduce their single-use plastics dramatically, as, besides the harmful effects of plastics on the environment, recent scientific research found degrading plastics to be a source of greenhouse gases. Researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) discovered that several greenhouse gases are emitted when common plastics are degrading in the environment.

“The study reports a previously unrecognized production of greenhouse gases (methane and ethylene) when common plastics break down and are exposed to sunlight. The team tested the most predominate types of plastic manufactured and littered globally, including materials for food storage (Styrofoam, plastic bottles and bags, etc.). Polyethylene, for example used in plastic bags, is the most produced and discarded synthetic polymer globally and the researchers found this to be the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is something we should consider when accepting single-use plastic bags, plastic items and Styrofoam, an island wide ban is desired and businesses should reduce these items to protect our environment and ourselves” explained Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Nature Foundation’s Project Officer.

Single-use plastics are known to have deleterious effects on the environment. Plastics are known to release a variety of chemicals during degradation, which has a negative impact on organisms and ecosystems. It is also known that smaller particles, termed ‘microplastics,’ are the end product of plastic degradation and may further accelerate greenhouse gas production in the environment. Degradation and breakdown of plastic represents a newly discovered source of greenhouse gases that are expected to increase, because more plastic is produced and accumulated in the environment.

“Greenhouse gases directly influence climate change—affecting sea level, global temperatures, ecosystem health on land and in the ocean, and intensify storms and hurricanes, which increase flooding, drought, and erosion. Considering the amounts of plastic washing ashore on our coastlines and the amount of plastic exposed to ambient conditions, our finding provides further evidence that we need to stop plastic production at the source, especially single-use plastic” stated leading author of the study Sarah-Jeanne Royer, a post-doctoral scholar in the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE).

 “The Nature Foundation applauds all business which already switched to biodegradable and reusable products instead of single-use plastics, these responsible businesses will contribute to a greener and more sustainable St Maarten for future generations to come. In the coming months businesses on St Maarten will be officially invited by the Nature Foundation to reduce their single-use plastics and use reusable and biodegradable alternative” commented Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

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 Maartens 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.

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Biodegradable alternative products
Biodegradable alternatives for styrophome
Biodegradable alternatives
Biodegradable alternative plates, bags and boxes

Nature Foundation Calls on Businesses to use Biodegradable and Reusable Products

The Sint Maarten 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.

Nature Foundation Develops Five Easy Steps to Reduce Single-Use Plastic Waste!

The Nature Foundation is kicking off its ‘Reduce and Reuse St Maarten’ project by releasing five easy steps businesses and residents can take to reduce their single-use plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is a global concern that has damaging impacts on human and environmental health.

St Maarten is a contributor to this issue as littering and the use of single-use plastics are accepted island-wide, causing trash to wash into our oceans, impacting and affecting the local environment, corals, fish, birds and wildlife.

Research has also shown that St Maarten has the highest municipal solid waste of the Caribbean at 9.7 kg per capita per day, compared to Curacao’s waste generation of 0.44 kg. (Source: SERSXM)

The ineffective disposal of waste has caused major problems on St Maarten as poor waste management, frequent toxic landfill fires, no waste separation and no recycling pose grave concerns regarding public health, air pollution, and water and soil contamination. The Nature Foundation 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 years in the environment. If current trends continue there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

The Nature Foundation St Maarten is fighting plastic pollution through the ‘Reduce & Reuse St Maarten’ project, which teaches and encourages residents, children and businesses to reduce their plastic waste output and clean-up the environment.

Residents can easily reduce their single-use plastic pollution by following these 5 impactful steps;

  • Step 1: Say no to plastic straws, bags, cups and disposable cutlery.
  • Step 2: Carry a reusable shopping bag, water bottle, spork and cup.
  • Step 3: Use and choose biodegradable alternatives.
  • Step 4: Buy and ask for unpacked vegetables and fruits.
  • Step 5: Lobby businesses to use less plastic and spread the word!

Various businesses have already taken steps to reduce their single-use plastic output, such as Buccaneer Beach Bar, The Dinghy Dock, Lagoonies, the St Maarten Yacht Club, Double Dutch Cafe and Karakter Beach Bar, as well as one of the largest hotels, Divi Little Bay, which went completely straw-free since they reopened.

Businesses can also help to reduce a large amount of single-use plastic pollution by following these 5 impactful steps;

  • Step 1: Only provide straws and bags upon request
  • Step 2: Use reusable cups and cutlery.
  • Step 3: Use biodegradable products (Straws, cups, cutlery, and to-go containers).
  • Step 4: Advertise your eco-activism!
  • Step 5: Lobby other companies to use less plastic!

St. Maarten is a beautiful island that attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. The Nature Foundation wants to keep it that way. The community’s help in cleaning up and reducing plastic waste will go a long way in ensuring the preservation of the beauty Sint Maarten is known for.

If residents would like to help the Nature Foundation in the fight against plastic pollution and want to become a Reduce and Reuse Ocean Defender, please contact us!

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. 

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A seahorse grabs on to a plastic cotton swab (Justin Hofman Photo)
sea turtle eating plastic
A sea turtle about to ingest a single use plastic bag (Troy Mayne Photo)