April 22, 2017: According to Plastic Oceans Foundation and Sea Turtle Conservancy every year 14 billion pounds of trash- most of it being plastic- is dumped into the world’s oceans. These plastics never go away and directly result in 100,000 marine animals dying each year from becoming entangled in or ingesting these non-biodegradable substances. Plastic pollution is equally harmful to people; as plastic debris floats in seawater the water absorbs pollutants that are highly toxic and dangerous to human health.
On April 22nd, which is globally observed as World Earth Day, Sandals Foundation in keeping with their environmental mandate is proactively promoting reusable shopping bags as a sustainable replacement to single use plastics. Through the distribution of 10,000 reusable bags across eight Caribbean islands in communities and areas highly traversed by ‘shoppers’, the Foundation hopes to educate the public on how a simple decision to do away with non- biodegradable plastics can make a huge impact on environmental preservation. Each recipient of a shopping bag will be asked to sign a pledge, indicating their willingness to play their part to protect the environment they call home.
Jonathan Hernould, Environmental Officer of Sandals Foundation commented on the drive behind the initiative, “Approximately 500 billion single use plastic bags are used per year. That is 1 million every minute, these single use plastics are in the top 10 items collected every year on international coastal clean-up day! Humans have adopted a ‘throw away mentality’ which is devastating to our environment. Through our education campaign and by distributing reusable shopping bags in communities across the Caribbean we hope that we can start to reduce our dependency on single use bags thus reducing the amount of plastic in our waste stream and our oceans.”
Over 30 countries worldwide have some form of regulation centered on single use plastic bags ranging from taxes on its manufacturing and sales to complete bans. Sandals Foundation’s 2017 Caribbean wide Earth Day initiative echoes their support of having this law instituted across the Caribbean region. Antigua, one of the islands in which Sandals operates, is one of the countries that the government has placed a ban on single use plastics since 2016.
The Sandals Foundation is engaged in and committed to environmental awareness, developing effective conservation practices and teaching future generations how to care for their communities and preserve their surroundings.