Sustainable Destination Council Chair of the Plastic Free SKB Campaign, Tawanna Wigley, promotes the initiative.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Several initiatives to bolster tourism by encouraging the public and youth to recycling and eliminate single-use plastics have been launched by been launched by the Ministry of Tourism. The ministry is encouraging everyone to make 2019 a “Plastic-Free Year,” to minimize plastic pollution with a “Plastic-Free Legacy,” and began a programme to teach schoolchildren the benefits of recycling.

Assistant Secretary and Chairperson of the Sustainable Destination Council, Diannille Taylor-Williams noted several actions have been taken to further promote a plastic free St. Kitts. One such initiative was the partnership with organizers of Cooler Fete, Jourade and other popular activities for Sugar Mas 47.

“Reusable plastic cups were donated to people patronizing the bars with the idea that persons attending that event have had a cup that they could reuse at the bar and throughout the night,” explained Taylor-Williams.

Grand Carnival Parade float

To promote a plastic-free St. Kitts, a float depicting a turtle entangled in a wave of plastics collected from beach clean-ups around the island was on display during the Jan. 1 Grand Carnival Parade.

Taylor-Williams, encourages people to reduce plastic use in their everyday lives by recycling.

“We do not have a recycling facility in St. Kitts, but we have the Admirals Company, which collects recyclables, compact and ship them,” explained Taylor-Williams. “People are encouraged to take recyclables, plastics, glass bottles, corrugated cardboard and aluminium cans to Admirals for shipping. If contacted, they will collect recyclables from the community.

“Due to the size of the St. Kitts and Nevis, it is not in a position to have a recycling facility as not enough waste is generated for such a small population. Some persons look at recycling as a task that is not moneymaking, opposed to when they return glass bottles to the brewery.

“We are not in a position with plastics in which enough is generated for the person who is collecting it can give something,” said Taylor-Williams. “If we think of it in terms of our health and environment, we would be willing to part with plastic bottles. We are encouraging everyone to do it and think about the in-kind return, not about a cash return.
Isn’t your life worth more than cash?”

Taylor-Williams pointed out a facility in Trinidad that recycles plastics and makes tables and chairs for schools. She the ministry is promoting its plastic-free challenge to encourage persons to get creative in recycling plastics.

She encouraged young people to recycle as an entrepreneurial venture. This can help divert some of the waste from going into landfills.

“If we continue to generate the amount of waste that we are currently generating we can have major problems in terms of the health of the people and also the economy,” Mrs. Taylor-Williams said.

Moving towards a plastic free St. Kitts and Nevis is a work in progress, but thanks to the Tourism Education Programme, children as young as primary schoolers are being taught the benefits of recycling in order to sustain the Federation’s tourism product.

Teaching youth to recycle

Teaching youth the importance of recycling was emphasized by Community/Education Tourism Officer Shaline Welcome. She said projects have been initiated to teach students about sustainable tourism.

Students were asked to make scrapbooks around the topic “How does pollution affect land and coastal areas and the negative impacts that it would have on our tourism industry?” The second part of the project was the creation of souvenirs from recycled items.

“They used either plastic, including plastic bottles, Styrofoam, wood or rubber, but most emphasis was placed on plastic,” said Welcome, noting that students made creative items such as earrings using recycled plastic bottles. “Recycling plastic and making creative items such as these is preparing youth for what is to come next.”

“Students show their souvenirs to their classmates, just as they would show them to individuals or tourists,” said Ms. Welcome.

“They told their classmates what their souvenirs were made from. We do is try to build interest at the school with the Tourism Education Programme to preparing students as tourism ambassadors. These students will join community groups, help beautify our communities and help reduce waste.”

Ms. Welcome said that as part of the instruction, many students encourage their families to get on board with recycling.

“It starts in the schools; it is taught by teachers and around the schools,” explained Welcome. “Then, they take it home. Parents see how enthused their children are about recycling and tourism and they become involved,” explained Ms. Welcome. “When I see projects that are actually done, you can see parents join in.”

The programme has been active for three years, with approximately 300 students enrolled in the programme. Six schools are participating, four primary schools, one secondary school and one tertiary school. Schools participating include Dr. William-Conner, Tyrell Williams, Tucker Clarke and Sandy Point Primary Schools, the Basseterre High School (BHS) and the Advanced Vocational and Education Center.