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Equipped to save the environment

Research, education, citizen science and policy change focus of Bahamas Plastic Movement Summer Camp
  • Pictured are participants of the fourth Bahamas Plastic Movement’s Plastic Pollution Education and Ocean Conservation Camp in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera. Thirty children were selected to attend the camp that focused on innovating solutions to plastic pollution. EDWARD RUSSELL III


Published: Jul 24, 2017

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Over the course of a week, children of Eleuthera were equipped with the power to save the environment from the issue of plastic pollution, during the fourth Bahamas Plastic Movement’s Plastic Pollution Education and Ocean Conservation Camp at the Eleuthera Arts & Cultural Center in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera. Thirty children were selected to attend the camp that focused on innovative solutions to plastic pollution.

Plastic is a synthetic material made of crude oil and toxins like bisphenol-A (BPA). When exposed to environmental conditions, like sunlight, it releases toxins into living organisms and breaks down into barely visible pieces of micro-plastic. Since plastic can never fully degrade, fish mistake it for food and ingest it. As plastic works its way up the food chain, humans consume the plastic-polluted fish, introducing plastic into their bodies. Wildlife can get entangled in plastic products, hindering them from taking precautionary measures of survival.

Through the routes of art, scientific research, political advocacy, lifestyle change and business engagement, students applied what they learned about plastic pollution to spread their creative fixes to others. Placed in the tracks of their greatest strengths and highest interests, the campers spent two days diving into the five categories of plastic pollution solutions. A mural consisting of plastic found collected from the beach cleanup during the camp, displays a polluted wave and marine life affected by the trash that winds up in their habitat. There are plans for the mural to be hung in the Tarpum Bay community to bring awareness of the issue to the locals.

During the scientific research track, six groups of campers collected 2,000 pieces of trash around the library, park, dock, alleys and streets in under 40 minutes. After extensive calculations, they found that 77.2 percent of the debris collected was made of plastic. The intention of this data is to have statistics that apply to the places people live and support education on the issue of plastic pollution threatening the small island nation.

While calculations were conducted, another group of young activists took the initiative to shoot a “call to action” video, which they hope will be viewed by the prime minister and members of Parliament.

Speaking on human health and animal endangerment, the activists hope that their video will gain momentum behind the push for banning plastic bags in The Bahamas.

The lifestyle change group focused on changing everyday necessities from products surrounded by plastic to do-it-yourself alternatives. Rather than relying on products that are packaged in plastic and can have up to 600,000 microbeads in them, campers learned to make their own toothpaste and body scrub. They learned how to use old T-shirts to create reusable bags, which they can use when shopping to replace the short life of a plastic bag.

Another group of Plastic Warriors grabbed some “Plastic Free July” posters and got five business establishments to agree to join the campaign. For the month of July, partnering businesses pledged to serve straws only upon request, rather than giving them out with every beverage they sell.

With the students’ newfound understanding and answers to plastic pollution, the week concluded with an expo during which they revealed how much plastic was found locally. They demonstrated how their call to action video is hoped to create a nationwide movement and how people can make their own body care products. They also shared information about the Plastic Free July campaign, portraying the ambition, dedication and care the “Plastic Warriors” have. Information skits and songs were performed, teaching those in attendance about solutions to plastic pollution.

 

 

 

 

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