April 13, 2021

Plastic Free Cayman team return from successful trip to Little Cayman

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Our Plastic Free Cayman team just returned from a very successful trip to Little Cayman where we partnered with The Little Cayman National Trust, CCMI, DoE, Southern Cross Club, Little C Tours and Protect Our Future, for a two day clean up event this weekend (March 13th and 14th). We had over 30 volunteers remove more than 3100 pounds (over 1.5 tons!!!!) of trash from our sister island’s shores.

We hosted 3 clean up sites: Charles Bright (removing 830 pounds), Mary’s Bay (1700 pounds removed) and Owen Island (600 pounds removed). 

Sadly, most of the debris collected was plastic and microplastics. Although there were hundreds upon hundreds of shoes that were also collected. Much of the plastic is now becoming microenvironments for various species. Bottle caps are now homes for marine species! (see photo). Even baby mangroves are growing through and around plastic bottles. Each year Plastic Free Cayman surveys the sister islands in an effort to track the amount of plastic pollution removed from various sites. The amount of trash found at each location was tremendous. Mary’s Bay could easily be mistaken for a small landfill. 

PFC founder Claire Hughes continues to push for a National Clean up campaign and plastic ban policy similar to what has been seen on other Caribbean islands. There may be new found hope with the upcoming government to address this issue.

Quote: Dejea Lyons, Protect Our Future Leader—“As people of such beautiful islands, we have to stop being apart of the problem and start being a part of solution. If we just make simple changes like using reusable bags when shopping or a bamboo toothbrush, we will stop being apart of the plastic epidemic. Additionally, coming out and lending a hand in the monthly beach clean ups is such a huge help. It has to be a collective effort. There is a quote that Narendra Modi once said and it was “Individual efforts can bring excellence but only collective efforts can deliver effectively” and in this case, this quote is so applicable to the issue at hand. Coming together as a community is the most effective way to combat this issue.”

Ben Somerville, Leader of Protect Our Future… “Our trip to Little Cayman this weekend was one of great success, but one that forced reflection in everyone who participated. Given that Little Cayman is an island renowned for its pristine ecosystems, and can also be called Cayman’s very own “secret Oasis”, to see all of the garbage that covers the coasts was heartbreaking. Over the course of two days, with a team of about 20-25 volunteers, we collected just over 3100 pounds of garbage. While it was clear that the vast majority of this garbage wasn’t from locals, but was from neighbouring islands and brought to shore by the ocean (evident through the various languages of the products and the companies), the amount of plastic pollution on this island made it clear that change must occur immediately. If an island as small as Little Cayman is harbouring hundreds of thousands of pounds of waste on their beaches, the plastic epidemic is an issue larger than most can comprehend. We hope that our findings from this weekend’s trip act as a call to action for our community and government. The use of plastics must come to an end. If one of the most untouched and natural places on the planet has been impacted so severely, it should be clear that plastics must be banned immediately in the Cayman Islands, and we must begin to rely on alternative products. The preservation of our islands’ environmental and cultural health is our top priority, and we are willing to work for its preservation. However, this has become an issue that we cannot tackle alone, but must have the backing of our government and community, and must work together to all keep Cayman the beautiful and diverse country we know it to be.”

Amber Ebanks, student volunteer and Protect Our Future member, “Plastic waste  is not the only problem we’re facing, it’s our overall waste consumption. From grocery shopping to purchasing single use items, this trip has demonstrated and shown me just how much of a problem it has affected our island and our marine ecosystem. It’s time we reconsider the impacts of our waste consumption and think of the effects this will cause not only on island but globally.”

IMAGES: Ashanti Reid, UCCI student and PFC volunteer

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