With every passing year, the detrimental effects of plastic waste on our environment become even more glaring. With roughly 300 million tons of plastic being produced globally each year, the Sandals Foundation has intensified its efforts to reduce plastic pollution in the Caribbean, this time targeting school children.
In observance of World Earth Day (Sunday April 22), the Sandals Foundation has started the distribution of 5000 reusable water bottles in schools across the Caribbean to reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles among school children. Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke said the initiative is part of the larger focus of the foundation to engage and educate adults and children on the threats their activities and habits pose to the environment.
“What we are doing is more than just handing out brightly colored water bottles to children. It is about the education of the children to bring about a change in perspective and habits. If we can get our children to understand the dangers of plastic pollution, how their actions contribute to that and get them to view their habits differently, we would have made some progress in the fight against plastic pollution,” Clarke said.
Environmental Officer at the Sandals Foundation, Jonathan Hernould said that management of plastic waste is a global issue, making plastic pollution one of the leading environmental issues in the Caribbean. “A large cross section of our Caribbean population depend on our seas for their livelihoods and with the harm that plastic pollution causes to our oceans and marine wildlife, that livelihood is under threat.”
In addition to providing students with reusable bottles to replace single use bottles, Hernould said teams from Sandals and Beaches resorts plan to visit the schools to work with and educate students on the dangers of plastic pollution to tourism, our health and the environment.
“Improper disposal of plastics is dangerous to all. Animals are trapped by plastic debris or eat it and become sick. Microscopic plastic particles are absorbed by fish that humans eat. It is important that the students know this so that they not only change their habits but influence their households as well.”
Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These include plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. In observance of Earth Day last year, the Sandals Foundation delivered 5000 reusable tote bags to supermarkets across the region as part of the mission to educate the public about reducing the need for single use plastics.