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“Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle”

You’ve heard this slogan often repeated, but have you ever stopped to think what it means in daily life?

Let’s start with a look at ‘Reduce,’ the most powerful and effective action we can take to manage our waste.

There’s a lot riding on reducing plastic waste. Plastic that’s too small to see—microplastic—now pollutes oceans, lakes, rivers, drinking water—tap, cistern, bottled—food, beverages, and our bodies.

By 2050, research suggests there will be more plastic than fish in our seas. These microplastics come from many things we use in daily life, including synthetic clothing and Styrofoam—two things we can eliminate from our lives with relative ease.

Best Practices to Reduce Waste

A few tips for individuals

  • Buy only what you need and opt for products with less packaging
  • Install your own water dispenser or filtration system
  • Use reusable bags, water bottles, food containers, straws, and cutlery
  • Support green businesses

Green businesses are Growing

It’s great to see a rapidly increasing number of businesses taking the initiative to reduce their plastic waste for a better BVI. Island Roots Cafe, Beans, Nanny Cay, Lady Sarah’s, Captain’s Kitchen, Tradewinds Cruise Club, O’Neal Webster, and Sail Caribbean are at the top of a growing list of professionals who are going greener with good ideas, such as:

  • Using only biodegradable food/beverage containers, instead of single-use Styrofoam/plastic containers
  • Giving a discount for bringing in your own reusable container
  • Water dispensing stations with reusable glasses readily on hand
  • Replacing single-use plastic cups with reusable, branded cups
  • Not providing straws, or providing only compostable straws upon request
  • Sourcing locally grown food to reduce packaging waste and support farmers and fishers
  • Using ‘green’ suppliers who keep packaging to a minimum

Cooper Island Beach Club’s best practices to reduce waste are both effective and innovative. Their microbrewery and glass crusher have reduced their waste by 65%, as they no longer import bottled/canned beer, and the glass they do use is crushed to a fine sand and returned to the beach. Their locally-made craft beers enrich the overall Cooper Island experience, and a portion of beer sales are donated to the Association of Reefkeepers (ARK), who focus on BVI turtle conservation.

Laws to Reduce Waste

In response to a request from the Ministry of Health & Social Development, Green VI submitted recommendations that Styrofoam and other plastic food and beverage containers, along with straws and cutlery, be banned from the BVI, and that eco-friendly alternative products be exempt from import duty. 

As we await helpful new legislation, we can all use our consumer influence, asking businesses to stop using Styrofoam, other single-use plastics, and support businesses who make the change to eco-friendly alternatives—which are now readily available on-island.

Voluntary Plastic Bag Ban

Another big plastic waste polluter we can reduce—with or without legislation—is the single-use plastic bag.

In 2013-14, Green VI and Worldhouse Caribbean brought BVI supermarkets together and worked out a voluntary one-year suspension of providing free plastic bags to customers.

The Supa Valu stores have carried on with this best practice, and we are now asking food outlets to re-implement policies that encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags. When we simply carry our goods home in our own bags, we’re making a difference.

Reuse & Recycle

We’ll focus on these important steps—’reuse’ and ‘recycle’—next time.

Meanwhile, check out the ‘Get Involved’ section at www.greenvi.org for Reuse tips and also to see where your closest Recycling Points are on Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

Charlotte McDevitt

Charlotte McDevitt

Executive Director at Green VI
Charlotte is the executive director of Green VI, a non-profit organisation that works toward a greener, cleaner and healthier BVI, finding balance between development and conservation of the natural environment.
Charlotte McDevitt
Charlotte McDevitt

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