The Nature Foundation St Maarten was informed about a massive amount of littering which took place at the ‘Soak A fete’ last Sunday night despite the repeated remarks of the organization to visitors of the event to dispose their trash responsibly. Buccaneer Beach Bar, CC1 and Meadowlands did a great job cleaning up the entire beach, the Kimsha parking lot and several roads surrounding the beach. Nature Foundation applauds the initiative of the event to not provide any straws and only use biodegradable cups and hopefully other events will follow this initiative. However, unfortunately during cleaning up after the event mostly plastic cups and plastic straws were found, presumably taken by visitors from surrounding businesses.
“A ban on single-use plastics is very much needed in St Maarten and all businesses should move to reusable and biodegradable alternatives instead. People need to dispose their trash responsibly, which means in a trash bin and not on the beach, in the environment or on public roads. The event crew did an amazing job cleaning up the surroundings; unfortunately wind and rain probably already caused a significant amount of these plastic straws and cups to end up in our ocean and environment. Therefore we are asking all residents and tourists to dispose their trash properly and all businesses to move to reusable and biodegradable alternatives instead of single-use plastics” stated Nature Foundation Projects Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
St Maarten uses a remarkably high 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 standard and very popular, which also includes the use of plastic cutlery. 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 local environment. These single-use plastics 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, new research even shows greenhouse gas production when plastic breaks down.
“To fight pollution and littering on our island, which is undoubtedly necessary, I already proposed the introduction of a cup return fee for several events on St Maarten. Which means you will purchase your cup at the start of the event and upon return of the cup you will receive your cup-fee back by the organization. Adding an important value to our trash, encouraging visitors of the event to reuse products and properly dispose your trash. People picking up cups from others can make some extra dollars for their next drink” explained Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
The Foundation is asking businesses and event organizations to contact the Nature Foundation if they would like to receive tips and tricks to reduce single-use plastics and look into other responsible alternatives.