Plastic in paradise

A few weeks ago, a friend put this picture up on Facebook. It was taken off the island of Roatan in Honduras.

This mass of plastic debris turned up on the shores of a place that most of us would  normally consider to be paradise. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited the island so, naturally, I was horrified to see this and could imagine how devastating it must have been for holidaymakers and residents alike.


My friend said, “We must all stop using plastic now” and I thought “Yes she is right, I’m going to stop using plastic” and then I thought about it some more…

It would be really difficult for me to stop using plastic. I have a very busy life and it would take time and effort to do this and if I stopped using plastic it would only make a tiny difference. Wouldn’t it be better that those who supplied plastic took on that role for me and for all of us? If the supermarkets that sold the plastic, told their suppliers that they would no longer stock products packed in plastic and governments put policies in place to ban plastic, then that would make a far greater difference than just little old me.

In essence, this is what our Transforming Value Chains Project* is all about. By applying life-cycle thinking to tourism operations and value chains in Mauritius and Saint Lucia we can identify where the hotspots for environmental impact are and work with the tourism industry and governments to put practices and policies in place to address these.
Our recent workshops on both islands focused on working with stakeholders to think about what happens to products from cradle to grave. We examined the natural resource inputs and emissions for each stage of the life cycle, identifying the impacts and priority hotspots.

Watch this space – hotspot analysis could just be what’s needed to make a real difference to carbon emissions in small island economies and this project is the first step to making it happen.


Picture: Delegates at the Transforming Tourism Value Chains* project in Saint Lucia.
*The four-year project, “Transforming Tourism Value Chains in developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to accelerate more resilient, resource efficient, low carbon development”, is led by UN Environment and supported by 5 million euros from the International Climate Initiative on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

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