BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Wednesday 31st July 2019) –With young people in S.Kitts-Nevis being interested and involved in the global plastic-free movement geared towards reducing environment pollution issues caused by single- use plastic, activists and other supporters on the local scene are of the view that the future regarding this subject matter looks positive.

On the morning of Saturday 27th July, individuals who collectively accepted the challenge to march for a Plastic-Free SKN, organised by the St.Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC), took to the streets of Basseterre with most wearing the solidarity purple colour in the annual procession as part of the Plastic Free July month-long campaign.

Some of the placard messages saw: “IT’S ONLY ONE STRAW/PLASTIC CUP/BAG/STYROFAOM/BOTTLE…SAID 50 THOUSAND PEOPLE!!’, ‘Choose To Refuse Any Single Use PLASTIC!!!’, ‘Save the Turtle and the World’ and ‘HAPPINESS is a destination free of PLASTIC POLLUTION.’

The SDC informs that single-use plastic refers to disposable plastics that are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled such as grocery bags, food packaging, beverage bottles, straws, containers, cups, and cutlery.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism Carlene Henry-Morton spoke with this reporter following the march.

She described the young children as agents of change.

“I was very happy to see that there were a number of young children in the march and very often these are the agents of change. Some of us when we are older we are already stuck in our ways but the young children are looking on and we are pressing this message very much in our tourism education programme and so on because we believe in the next five to ten years we’re going to see a dramatic change in the kinds of containers that we use and the kind of receptacles that we use and the way we go about doing our shopping; we’re going to see a dramatic change in that area so we’re on a mission and we’re seeing results and we intend to make sure that we keep the message going.”

According to her: “The march was not a very big march but I think it was very impactful, you can see as we went along the route that we had that persons were paying attention, persons were waving to us and giving us basically the nod that they support the whole mission and the mandate that we are trying to build awareness about.”

She continued: “So I don’t think it’s going to be very long now where even if it’s not legislated right away, I think that the message is resonating with the general public and you’re going to find more and more persons willingly skipping the single use plastic bags and choosing to use the reusable bags whether they’re made out of cloth or whatever material. Some persons might do what we use to do years ago and make out own bags; people use to have their own bread bags…crocus bag and so on. So some persons might become creative again and begin to recycle old jean material whether it’s a trouser or skirt or whatever and begin to be very practical and but very stylish with how they eliminate the single use because really the onus is on all of us, it’s not just on government and we don’t have to wait on government all the time to legislate things for us to do what we know is the right thing.”

Meanwhile Tricia Greaux of the Department of Marine Resources who is also an SDC member shared thoughts about youth interest on the topic of plastic-free also.

“This means our future. This means creating a good legacy. This is why we’re doing it; we’re doing it so that they can have a better tomorrow and so we really have to encourage the youth. A lot of the volunteers for the St.Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network Camp came from the Department of Marine Resources in the form of beach and marine conservation officers and so a lot of the youth that we saw today came out of that camp and they plastic-free ambassadors. It is incredible to see how they have really absorbed the information and then they are regurgitating like crazy.”

Winner of the 2019 Plastic Repurposing Contest Vincia Collins (right) receives her prize from Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Chairperson of the St.Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC) Diannille Taylor- Williams following the march (Spokesman Snap)

Vincia Collins, winner of the 2019 Plastic Repurposing Contest believes that such a movement: “It’s a wonderful idea because we really have to save our planet by recycle plastic. A lot of us look at plastic as trash but really and truly when you do something with plastic and you see the transformation, you realise that there is so much you can do with plastic. Be creative…make stuff; there is so many things you can do with plastic.”

Some of the items made by her were vases made from big water bottles and also a bag and mini hats using Island Hopper plastic bags.

As gathered from the SDC, over 2 million persons from 159 countries participate in this challenge each year.

It is said that while Plastic- Free July is a month-long campaign, the movement aims to raise awareness and motivate individuals and organisations to reduce single-use plastic use throughout the year.

Following this year’s march, which ended at the National Museum archway on the Bay Road, individuals were invited to sign a petition which supports the local plastic-free movement.

A group photo of the Plastic-Free SKN supporters pose for a group at the end of the march (Spokesman Snap)

Notably, well-known community activist, Dr. Terrance Drew who is the Chairman of the St.Kitts–Nevis Labour Party Opposition also signed that day.