St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Ms Dianille Taylor, is telling WINN FM 98.9 about an initiative that promotes the use of reusable material.
“The Sustainable Destination Council in early January decided to deal with projects that deal with waste management for 2017 as our main objective and so with support from the St Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network. We decided to follow what is happening globally in celebrating Plastic Free July, because we realize that waste management is a major issue in St Kitts and especially in terms of plastic, we see that very often. The Sea Turtle Monitoring Network spearheaded the project for Plastic Free July and we launched it on Saturday (June 1) at Rams Supermarket in Bird Rock where we had on sale reusable bags because what we want to do is encourage people to reduce the amount of plastics they use whether it’s one use plastic shopping bags or straws when the go to restaurant and bars. So we wanted on Saturday to launch this awareness campaign and so we went to Rams and we were selling reusable bags and actually it wasn’t really selling, what we were doing was encouraging people to use reusable bags and asking for a donation of five dollars which goes to the Heart of St Kitts Foundation which is an NGO which supports community projects that deals with issues that deal with waste management, marine and coastal conservation, cultural heritage protection and new tourism projects.”
WINN asked what are the figures like for St Kitts or the wider Caribbean and what is being said that would get people excited to change their behavior?
“That is one of the things we were trying to achieve by having this Plastic Free July, we were working with local supermarkets, restaurants and bars to collect data in terms of before Plastic Free July awareness takes place, we’ll get an inventory and numbers in terms of plastic bags and straws bought or imported during the month while the awareness is going on and two months later we collect the data to determine if there has been a change in behavior, because we recognize a change in behavior doesn’t happen overnight its gonna take time for people to adjust and so that is what we were working towards, collecting hard data.”
Ms Taylor told WINN FM that St Kitts and Nevis is high on the list of countries when it comes to the use of plastic.
“What I do know while we do not have information on actual numbers in terms of plastic, is that per capita St Kitts is number four in the world in terms of waste generation and we only have to go to the landfill to look at what is happening there, because of the limited size of the landfill and the fact that plastic does not break down easily. And even closer home, just a few days ago we had a tropical wave passing and if many of us look closely at the videos showing the ghauts flowing one of the things you were most likely to see as the ghauts flowed down toward the sea, were plastic bags or plastic bottles and we know what happens when they get into the sea it disturbs the marine life. There are turtles who often take floating plastic bags for jellyfish because there are some species of turtles that feed on jellyfish and so they’ll mistake the floating plastic bags for jellyfish and try to ingest it causing problems in their digestive system. Now these turtles are also responsible for keeping or reefs clean, if the reefs are not kept clean then we are going to have problems in terms of our fish life so we are actually impacting our ability to have food when we indiscriminately dump our plastic. We also recognize that on St Kitts we do not have a recycling facility."