Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Educates Community on Reducing Plastic Use during Successful Beach Cleanup



PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Last Sunday the Nature Foundation organized a beach cleanup on Simpson Bay Beach as part of the ‘Save our Sharks’ project in collaboration with the Dutch-based Boskalis Beach Clean Up tour. The Boskalis tour is an initiative of the North Sea Foundation where business, consumers, civil society, and government clean the entire Dutch coast. This year the cleanups were held throughout the entire kingdom for the first time with all the Dutch Caribbean islands participating.

At least eighty volunteers showed up to help preserve nature, marine life and wildlife on St Maarten by cleaning up Simpson Bay Beach. Around 200 kg of garbage and trash was collected including straws, plastic bottles, cans and large car tires. The volunteers cleaned the beach for more than two hours and they learned about the major impacts of trash on the local environment. The Nature Foundation also explained about the possibilities to reduce plastic waste, such as the use of paper straws instead of plastic straws, reusable cutlery and reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags.

The first fifty participants received the first reusable shopping bags from the ‘Save our Sharks’ project, this is a great example for how residents can reduce plastic waste. The Foundation is asking the community to stop accepting single-use plastic bags at stores; these bags have significant negative impacts on the local environment and wildlife. Birds are often found dead with stomachs full of plastic and marine life often entangles in plastic waste, killing them. Research also shows that 48% of fish humans consume contains plastic. “Especially as an island nation, we depend on our oceans, tourists come from far to see our beautiful marine life, therefore we also need to have a clean ocean as a priority,” commented Nature Foundation Project Manager Melanie Meijer Zu-Schlochtern.

The Foundation would like to thank Karakter Beach Bar for their support by providing drinks for all participants. Karakter already uses recyclable plastic cups and during the cleanup also announced that they will start to use paper straws instead of plastic straws. The Nature Foundation hopes more establishments will follow this initiative.