On Dutch side of St. Maarten, volunteers cleaned and inventoried trash from five beaches, Mullet Bay Beach, Guana Bay Beach, Simpson Bay Beach, Great Bay Beach and Belair Beach. The International Coastal Cleanup data card provided a separation of bags into plastic and paper; this being done for the first time is to track how many of each category is littered on our beaches as well as coastlines around the world.
The results show that littered plastic bags far outweigh paper bags on our beaches.
The results between paper and plastic bags are as follows:--
Mullet Bay Beach
Great Bay Beach
Simpson Bay Beach
As the campaign continues on St. Maarten to place a ban on plastic bags given out for free at grocery outlets and fast food outlets, St. Maarten PRIDE foundation places urgency on our business community and our government to acknowledge that the island has to own up to the fact that the business sector and consumers are responsible for the large amount of flimsy plastic grocery bags in the natural environment.
Flimsy grocery plastic bags are polluting the streets, ocean and waterways, and too often are stuck on trees and cacti, causing visual pollution
St. Maarten consumers should become more socially responsible by taking their own re-usable bags when they do their grocery shopping. Large supermarkets should be taking the lead as has been done in Curacao by banning plastic bags in their stores and encouraging the use of canvas, cloth, jute, straw and other shopping bags that are re-usable. Plastic bags kill marine wildlife such as sea turtles, dolphins and marine birds like the National bird the Brown Pelican.
Plastic bags do more harm to the environment than the 20 minutes of usage consumers get out of them for carrying their groceries. In addition, plastic bags remain for hundreds of years on the landfills as they are not biodegradable.
This St. Maarten/St.Martin day, our foundation is asking all St. Maarten/St. Martin residents to take time to reflect on natural environment, take time to reflect on what makes the island such a special place, the Great Salt Pond, the Beaches, The Simpson Bay lagoon, national trees, and national birds such as the brown pelican, the endangered sea turtles and the free swimming dolphins in our waters. Make a conscientious effort to create changes in your daily life that can have a positive effect on our natural environment. While we encourage everyone to enjoy our beaches on St. Maarten/St. Martin day, we hereby ask all residents and visitors not to leave litter behind at the beaches.