PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Nature Foundation St. Maarten has presented crucial information at local schools as well as conducted beach clean-ups with small groups of students on four different beaches, Kimsha beach, Mullet Bay, Belair and Great Bay beach. These activities are part of the In-No-Plastic Project, a European Union-funded global initiative that raises awareness about plastic waste and innovative clean-up methods. The presentations teach students how to reduce their plastic usage and the effects plastic has on the island’s ecosystem. The Nature Foundation has hosted five clean-ups in the last three weeks collecting a total of 897.5lbs (407kg)! The clean-ups offer students the opportunity to see first-hand the amount of trash that is littering our coastline, how it negatively affects the environment, as well as an organized way for them to learn how to safely collect and remove the litter.
“Conducting clean-ups with young students is a very rewarding task. The younger education starts, the more information regarding litter and why it has a negative effect on our environment will be observed by the students. This allows them to think about the litter more passionately and how it can be removed from our environment, stated the project coordinator, Alice Manley. “The students participating in the clean-ups often have a lot of competitiveness to see which group can collect the most trash. This is a great reaction that we look forward to as the students end up collecting more litter and tend to walk away with a big feeling of accomplishment.”
The goal of In-No-Plastic is to prevent, remove, and repurpose marine plastic litter. A variety of strategies for reducing plastic use on the island will be presented by In-No-Plastic staff and the Nature Foundation through various social media platforms and presentations to schools, organizations, and businesses. As time passes, our staff will continue to monitor the amount of plastic found in our coastal areas.
“The Nature Foundation is eager to organize outdoor activities such as clean-ups with local schools. Providing student’s, the opportunity to assist with cleaning their island and keeping our native species safe and healthy is a large component of the work we do. Our goal is to preserve and enhance St. Maarten’s environment for generations to come,” stated Zakiya Peterson, Project Assistant of the Nature Foundation. “We look forward to the next generation as they get older and continue with their passion of protecting the environment.”
Presentations for the In-No-Plastic Project include topics such as the environmental tasks of the Nature Foundation, In-No-Plastic tasks, then differences between single-use and multi-use plastic, Sint Maarten’s plastic ban, and further information about the plastics’ environmental impact. Students participate in hands-on activities, and presentations can focus on practical applications, such as organizing clean-ups.
The clean-ups organized by the Nature Foundation include the use of reusable bags and gloves and trash disposal if the clean-ups are conducted at a beach without public garbage. Involved with the clean-ups, the Nature Foundation discusses with students the effects plastic has on the environment, and what they can do to minimize their plastic footprint. Over the last three weeks, the Nature Foundation in participation with local schools conducted five clean-ups with students ranging in ages from six years old to 19 years old. The Nature Foundation is proud of the efforts provided by local and visiting students and looks forward to increasing this number throughout the year.
Schools, groups, and businesses are welcome to reach out to the Nature Foundation to request a presentation or assistance from the Nature Foundation for any educational activity. These activities could take place in a class, or at another location by the group’s organization. If you would like to request a presentation from the Nature Foundation, please, contact email@example.com.
A consortium of 17 partners and 10 different countries in Europe and the Caribbean make up the project. The Nature Foundation will work alongside the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), a partner participating in the In-No-Plastic project. In-No-Plastic started October 2020 and is a three-year project funded with a 7.4 million Euro grant from the EU H2020 research project, funded under the call “Pilot action from the removal of Marine plastics and litter”, Topic ID: CE-FNR-09-2020 (Grant Agreement 10100612).
To learn more about this project, you can check out https://naturefoundationsxm.org/education/in-no-plastic-project/. You can also follow the Nature Foundation on social media to keep up to date with our work and learn when future clean-ups will occur. If you are interested in joining the Nature Foundation’s volunteer list to receive emails about volunteer opportunities, reach out to us at https://naturefoundationsxm.org/about-us/contact-us.