Nature Foundation Develops Five Easy Steps to Reduce Single-use Plastic Pollution!

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. 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. Plastic does not biodegrade and releases harmful chemicals as it breaks down into smaller pieces that are ingested by marine life. Of all marine biodiversity, 96% is vulnerable to plastic pollution each year as they ingest and get tangled in the floating debris.

Photocaption : A seahorse grabs on to a plastic cotton swab (Justin Hofman Photo)

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. 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 forever 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 Yacht Club, Market Garden Cafe and Karakter Beach Bar, as well as one of the largest hotels, Divi Little Bay, which went completely straw free since they reopened. All St Maarten 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 email na**********************@gm***.com. 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.