In the coming months, St. Maarten Nature Foundation will be conducting interactive presentations about the impact of trash on our environment and the need to reduce single-use plastics in St. Maarten’s primary schools. During these visits, you’ll find out what littering really does to the environment, and why the use of these plastics needs to be reduced!

This forms part of the Foundation’s mission, which is to educate the public on the environmental impacts associated with single-use plastics via its “Reduce and Reuse” project. Education is key! You’ll also explore practical ways to reduce the use of plastics, and do some fun activities together during these presentations.

The intern who developed the presentation had this to say: “We must get the attention of children in school because it is their future that is directly at risk. Kids their age are already seeing our trash wash up on their beaches. Their swimming water is polluted, and they are forced to either avoid playing in the ocean completely, or risk infectious diseases that can be carried by the plastics, waste water and other trash.”

Of all marine biodiversity, 96% is vulnerable to plastic pollution as they ingest and get tangled in the floating debris. Though trash may be discarded properly, it still ends up in our oceans every day. Through wind and storm water runoff, our waste enters and kills thousands of animals each year.

The Nature Foundation calculated that Dutch St. Maarten alone uses more than 1.4 billion plastic straws a year; straws are used for a few minutes and last forever in the environment. If current trends continue, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Plastic is made to be durable, and does not “biodegrade” like natural materials. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Tiny pieces, called microplastics, are the size of a small red ant, or even smaller. These are a concern because they can even end up in your drinking water. Nobody wants to eat or drink plastic – who knows what that even does to the body?!

Besides health concerns, we should also want our surroundings to look nice and clean, not full of trash that never disappears. This is for us, and for the tourists that come to visit, and support the economy. Most jobs on the island are tied to tourism, so we do want our guests to come back!

Has your school already signed up? Schools interested in having the presentations should contact [email protected] Pictures provided by Nature Foundation.