BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (MMS-SKN) — The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis which through the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council of the Ministry of Tourism first participated in the ‘Plastic Free July’ campaign in 2017, is all geared up for this year’s participation under the theme ‘Be part of the solution – help end plastic pollution’.
St. Kitts Plastic Free July (PFJ) 2022 activities will kick off tomorrow (Friday, July 1) with a billboard launch, at the Kim Collins Highway. This will be followed, on Saturday, July 2, with the distribution of environmentally-friendly reusable shopping bags at Ram’s Supermarket and King’s Pavilion Supermarket on Bay Road in downtown Basseterre, Valu Mart Supermarket on Wellington Road, B’s Enterprise in Sandy Point, and Fraites’ Supermarket in Molineux.
“Plastic Free July is a global movement that began in Western Australia to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution and encourage persons to develop new, plastic-free habits,” explained Sustainable Tourism Coordinator in the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism, Mr Kenney Manning. “This will be St. Kitts and Nevis’ sixth year participating, having first participated in 2017.”
On Monday, July 4, PFJ2022 activities will continue with what they have termed ‘Spotted Campaign’, where businesses and persons that are making the change will be highlighted. They will be assisted by members of the public who have been asked to take pictures and tell a story on how and why the particular business/persons would have made change, and tag the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council @stkittssdc on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
The period Monday, July 11 to Saturday, July 16 will be the ‘Change Week’ where persons are encouraged to make change in their lives and stop using plastic bags and instead use reusable bags when they go about their shopping and other related businesses.
A panel discussion, whose topic will be ‘coastal and marine pollution’, will be held on Thursday, July 21 on ZIZ National Broadcasting Corporation Radio and Television. It will also be carried live on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
The period Monday, July 25 to Friday, July 29 will have focus shifted to the St. Kitts Eco Park in Sir Gillies Estate, Sandy Point, where a Green Tourism Camp hosted by the Ministry of Tourism targeting primary school students between the ages of six to twelve from the rural areas will be held. They will learn about sustainable tourism highlighting going green, based on how to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.
The final event will be the Plastic Free July March which will be held on Friday, July 29. Participants will start from Five-Ways on Central Street, walking to downtown Basseterre, turn down Church Street, Liverpool Row, up to Fort Street, and end at Independence Square.
“More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year,” explained Mr. Manning. “They break up into smaller pieces and end up in the stomach of marine life and on beaches. These small pieces release greenhouse gases when exposed to the UV rays in sunlight – so the plastic pollution in our oceans is also contributing to global warming.”
He observed that many animals become tangled up in larger plastic products which makes it harder for them to get food and surface to breathe if they cannot breathe underwater (like dolphins, whales, and sea turtles). Larger plastics provide rafts for invasive species. This can damage our food supply as invasive species take over the animals and plants in the local food chain.
“Plastic pollution is harmful to our tourism product by marring the beautiful views of our Federation,” noted Mr. Manning. “Plastic pollution in the ocean negatively affects tourism activities such as snorkeling and diving Persons do not want to spend money and travel to a distant land to then swim, snorkel, or dive amidst plastic pollutions.”
He further advised: “The more plastics we put into the environment, the more plastic goes into our bodies. Plastics in your body are linked to cancer, and plastics in your body can cause infertility and neurological disorders like ADHD and Autism.”
The St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council, whose motto is ‘Good for Us – Better for All’, is a cross-sector body that consists of representatives from government agencies, NGOs and private sector organisations, as well as other like-minded individuals. It facilitates collaboration around sustainable management issues to ensure that development preserves and benefits St. Kitts’ environments, cultural heritage, and community livelihoods. Together, they are working towards a future where community members actively contribute to destination health, while promoting the island’s distinctive identity.
PFJ2022 partners are St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC); Heart of St. Kitts Foundation; St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN); St. Kitts Department of Marine Resources (DMR); St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism; Clean Seas; St. Christopher National Trust; Holistic Education Research & Conservation (HERC); and Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN).
Other PFJ2022 partners are the Department of Youth Empowerment; Tappwater Caribbean/Espo Water Solution; Solid Waste Management Corporation; St. Kitts Tourism Authority; Department of Environment; Sunset Reef Resort; Mother Becky Tea; Hand in Hand Security Services; Island Purified Water; Kittitian Hill/Belmont Farm; and Rotary Club of Liamuiga.