Making waves in the Caribbean - Dominica's fight against plastic waste
From January 2019 all single use plastic food containers and Styrofoam will be banned from the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, the inspiration behind Kalabash Bodycare.
High Fives to this tiny nation, and its population of 70,000 people for its contribution towards saving the planet. They make me very proud of my Caribbean roots. Several other Caribbean islands are also doing their bit for the environment by introducing plastic bans.
But, Dominica, still in recovery after the devastation of Hurricane Maria which hit the island badly in September 2019, is laying down the gauntlet for sustainability.
Dominica is actively putting into place legislation to achieve its objective of being the world’s first climate resilient nation.
In 2018, in an earlier phase of Dominica’s sustainability drive, its Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, made changes to reduce use of non-biodegradable food packaging by limiting imports and disrupting the supply chain.
The impact of the drive has encouraged everyone in this resilient nation to pull together to become more sustainable in their day to day lives and habits. Something we can all learn from.
Here at Kalabash Bodycare we choose to keep plastic use to a minimum by:
Using biodegradable, reusable and/or recyclable packaging for all our products.
Wrapping our natural soap in recyclable paper and recyclable cardboard gift boxes.
Using amber glass aromatherapy bottles made from fully recyclable glass.
Using recycled card for our shipping cartons.
Using wood and cardboard shred instead of polystyrene chips to protect your orders.
By driving Dominica’s national plastic free initiative, the Dominican president is keen to protect Dominica’s unique natural assets as well as its future and reputation as an eco-tourism destination.
The list of banned items stretches beyond plastic bag use here in the UK and many larger nations. Dominica’s ban will include plastic straws, plastic plates, plastic forks, plastic knives. It also covers Styrofoam cups and Styrofoam containers which apparently can take up to 500 years to break down, contaminating soil and water in the process.
Dominica wants to live up to its name as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean”, by pioneering high sustainability standards and protecting marine mammals by keeping its oceans clean. Its residents are very protective of the pristine deep waters which surround their island, also known as the “whale watching capital of the Caribbean”. These waters are home to sperm whales (mainly mothers and calves), who reside year-round. They are joined by migrating males during the mating season.
Sperm whales can be spotted very close to the shore, especially along Dominica's west coast where the ocean floor drops steeply to several thousand feet. These magnificent creatures are considered a national treasure by Dominicans.
So, if whale watching or even swimming with sperm whales is on your bucket list, a quick Google search will bring up lots of independent expeditions/trips and the Discover Dominica website links to several
diving schools offering whale watching excursions
throughout the year.
With their preservation and safety in mind, Dominica’s sperm whales are being closely monitored year round by a team of experts from National Geographic. They are researching the impact of noise, water and plastic pollution as well as sea traffic and climate change on depleting whale populations around the world. Sadly, incidents of plastic related deaths are rising around the world. In April of this year, a male sperm whale was found dead on the southern coast of Spain. A whale autopsy found that he was killed by the 29 kilos of plastic found in his stomach!
What can we do to help the fight against plastic waste?
I don’t know about you - but I don’t want the water bottle I use in the gym to end up floating in the ocean as marine litter. Or worse, lodged in the digestive systems of marine mammals. According to a recent UK Parliamentary report, plastic bottles make up around a third of all plastic pollution in the sea.
5 easy ways to reduce your plastic footprint.
1. Re-useable water bottles
2. Re-useable straws
3. Re-useable coffee cups
4. Re-useable containers for takeaways and your packed lunch
5. Replace unnatural shower gel with biodegradable natural soap.
Until next time...