You may have noticed over the last few years, a certain movement, gaining traction each and every day. The spread of photos and videos showing the devastating effects of plastic pollution completely covering wetlands, beaches, and landscapes have been very effective at getting us to open our eyes to one of the most pressing issues of our time.
In the Caribbean, plastic waste makes up a large proportion of debris reaching the sea from
sources on land. In the ocean it harms marine life, threatens ecosystems, health and the
region’s tourism-based economy. Plastic pollution not only diminishes the natural beauty for
which the islands are known; it also compromises the role of the ocean as a provider of food,
other resources, and livelihoods.
In February 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) launched
the #CleanSeas Campaign to engage governments, the public, civil society, and the private
sector in the fight against marine plastic litter. It aimed to address the root-cause of marine
litter by targeting the production and consumption of non-recoverable and single-use plastic
by engaging citizens to address the problem in their daily lives. More than anything else,
#CleanSeas aims to highlight the scale of the problem.
By April 2019, nine countries in the Wider Caribbean Region had joined sixty other nations in
the #CleanSeas Campaign. These were Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Grenada, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Several of these countries are participating in the IWEco Project which is partially executed
by UN Environment’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP), Secretariat to the Cartagena
Convention, the only legally binding environmental agreement in the Region.
CEP works to support implementation of the Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution (LBS)
Protocol and the Caribbean Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter (RAPMaLI).
In 2018, it prepared a technical research brief on the implementation of Styrofoam and Single
Use Plastic Bag bans in the Caribbean, and, introduced an interactive map to help in the tracking of progress. These products are being used to raise awareness, throughout the region, on progress made to reduce marine pollution from trash.
WaterWays is proud to be a part of the ongoing education in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States with organizations like IWeco.
Join WaterWays every Tuesday for #TosstheStrawTuesday, and tag us on social media, @mywaterways. Help show your friends, family, and community that you’re breaking up with plastic, one straw at a time.