APR 22, 2024

Earth Day 2024

Planet vs. Plastics: How the BVI is Pushing Back on Pollution

Today is a special day. Earth Day. Born 54 years ago of a catastrophic oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Earth Day is annually celebrated across the entire world. While of course every day should be Earth Day, April 22nd presents a specific opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with the planet and how we, as seemingly insignificant individuals, can adjust our behaviour to implement change.

This auspicious day comes with some downright depressing statistics, especially given this year’s theme – Planet vs. Plastics. Ugh. In a world that currently generates over 400 million tons of plastic waste a year, only 9% of which is recycled and a whopping 46% of which ends up in the ocean, it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed and despondent. But don’t be. The single greatest threat to the planet is the belief that someone else will save it, and there are countless ways in which you – yes, you – can effect change. Refuse a plastic straw in your happy hour drink, pack groceries in reusable bags, buy paper-wrapped soap and boxed detergent instead of their plastic-bottled equivalents, get involved in local coast cleanups, raise careful kids who will do the same. Each effort, no matter seemingly insignificant, is never wasted.

And right here in our own BVI back yard exist several organizations working towards positive change.

A Green, Clean, Healthy BVI

Female-founded and community-driven Green VI is all about creating and demonstrating a sustainable balance between urban development and natural resources. Focusing on waste, water, and energy, these eco entrepreneurs are leading the charge in territory-wide recycling and regenerative agriculture education. They are also the founders of Project BugOut, a municipal initiative recently rolled out on Virgin Gorda to reduce the breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito responsible for the transmission of such unpleasantness as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. The team also offer incentives and guidance in best green operation practices for companies with a conscience and, in conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources, even provide funding to support environmental betterment. Green VI is truly grassroots organization run for the people by the people, as they say. As a foundation they are fantastic at engaging with and involving the younger members of the community and installing in them both a sense of responsibility for the future as well as a belief in their own ability to effect change. Empowerment is everything!

Beyond The Reef

BVI-based Beyond the Reef is an outstanding example of what happens when pure passion and raw talent collide. As one might surmise, this non-profit is all about the ocean, and is devoted to creating inventive ways to care for our fragile marine ecosystem while generating positive publicity for the BVI and educating the surrounding communities on the importance of ocean health. Their most recent projects have focused on building some truly amazing artificial reef systems that attract both marine and human life in abundance. The bulk of this team’s efforts, however, is channelled into coastal clean-ups and the never-ending job of removing abandoned fishing gear (aka “Ghost Gear”) from both sea and shoreline. Ghost Gear refers to fishing equipment – nets, ropes, lines, traps etc. – that have been abandoned or lost at sea. It is estimated that between 500,000 and one million tons of this paraphernalia enter the oceans annually, and that as a result up to 66% of marine life are affected by entanglement, entrapment, and death. Most of this gear is manufactured from durable plastics that can survive for years in the ocean, so its removal is crucial to the health of the oceans, as is the education of future fishing folk who have the potential to perpetuate the problem. Beyond the Reef’s work is tireless, their commitment unwavering, and their aspirations lofty. In short, they are underwater angels entirely devoted to all things aquatic and they couldn’t be more worthy of your support.

 

Get Involved

If you can spare the time, then both incredible organizations warmly welcome all and any forms of assistance. Volunteer, donate, advocate, encourage – no act of support is too small. And if you don’t have the time or the resources (because frankly it can be tough to find the time for anything additional, let alone an outside organisation) then start at home. Separate your plastics and glass from regular trash and drop it in a Green VI recycling bin (many are found right next to the regular dumpsters anyway so it couldn’t be much more convenient). Pick up that discarded plastic water bottle you see at the beach instead of frowning, muttering, and then walking on by (yes, I’m guilty). Start small and take baby steps. You can’t change the world. But you can change yourself.

Start Your Support

Contact the Green VI Team

Contact the crew at Beyond The Reef

Sign up to Earth Day

 

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