Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!!

Happy Valentines Day from The Bahamas Plastic Movement!!

May your love for others last as long as plastic!

Photo Credit: Marina Debris.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

January 2014 Daily Single Use Plastic Log

As I mentioned in the prior post, this year I decided to start documenting the amount of single use plastic items I use daily. Starting in January 2014, I kept a running log on my cellphone and recorded the date, number and type of items used, it's origin and things I did to avoid the product. Most days I didn't use any items but on days that I did I was most likely out of town, at a fair or bar. Below is a table that I have constructed that displays the information listed above. For the month of January I used 54 single use plastic items. In contrast to global estimates of daily plastic usage, I don't use nearly as much as the average person, but I've estimated that I use 1.8 pieces of plastic roughly per day. However if you take a closer look at the items that I've used most during the month of January, you'll discover that plastic straws are most prevalent. In the words of my good friend Josh Kovach (sup Josh) "Eewwy". Why am I consuming so many straws, 18 this month!! A small number of those straws were drink stirrers that I refused, but the others were used as I guiltily enjoyed frozen beverages. Straws are one of the top ten debris items found on beaches worldwide. Thanks to this log I am able to pin point my single use problem areas and create personal solutions that will lead to national and global ones as well. 

My name is Kristal "Ocean" Ambrose and I abused plastic straws during the month of January 2014. 

February is here so I will most definitely be curbing my single use plastic appetite even more. To solve the issue I had with straws this past month I will keep my reusable straw in my purse or nearby. Unfortunately my reusable straw is made out of plastic (go figure) but I will invest in some glass straws made by this really cool company called Simply Straws, click on the name to learn more. You can review my single use plastic log below.

You can start a daily log as well! Every little step counts so begin documenting your usage today. What's stopping you?

January 2014 Daily Single Use Plastic Log

No. of Plastic Items
Type of Plastic Items
1st January 2014
cups (4), lid (1),straws (4), plastic clamshell (1), utensils (1), styrofoam plate (1), bottles (2)
Coffehouse, Junkanoo event, rib shack
2nd January 2014
cups (2), lid (1), straw (1), utensils (2), styrofoam clamshells (2), bag (1)
Coffehouse, art gallery, take out restauant

Tracking My Daily Single Use Plastic Consumption (Photos Inside)

Single use plastic is like an ex-boyfriend that you try to get rid of. You know it's not good for you but you use it anyway, you try to avoid it but it seems to be everywhere you go and when you're lonely it's so convenient to utilize; like takeaway food containers for example. Although I'm an advocate for saying NO to single use plastic items, sometimes I find myself on the corner of hypocrite street and guilt avenue. In 2012 I made the decision to say NO to single use plastic items because they require lots of finite resources to create but are used for a minimal amount of time and persists for ages in the natural environment, especially in our oceans. So things like straws and plastic bags were taboo in my book, although depending on the circumstance I still found myself using them. Living on the island of Eleuthera allows me to control how much single use plastic enters my life. I take my reusable bags to the store or use boxes and if I order take out from the local food take away in my town I take my own plate. In fact the restaurant owners are so used to me bringing my plate in, that if I forget it they let me borrow their dishware (shout out to A & T's Take-Away in Deep Creek). The minute I step foot outside of my settlement or town of Deep Creek, things get a bit different and I find myself unprepared, even more so when I'm travelling to Nassau or other islands or countries. Although my rules remain the same as far as no bags,straws or styrofoam, the minute I'm in a different environment I find that its unavoidable sometimes. Especially if I'm at a party, a coffeehouse, or bar. I've come to the conclusion that plastic is simply a silent part of Bahamian culture and having these items every and any where that you go is just the norm.

This year I decided to conduct my own personal study, which was quantifying the amount of single use plastic items I use on a daily basis.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Deep Creek Middle School: School Without Walls-Plastic Unit Part 1 (Pics Inside)

If anyone knows me they know that I love me some Deep Creek Middle School! So when the opportunity came about for me to co-advise the eighth grade school without walls plastic unit I was all over it. The Deep Creek Middle School (DCMS) is an independent school for Bahamian students in grades seven through ninth and is located on the southern end of the island of Eleuthera. DCMS offers an experiential approach to the Bahamian curriculum.  As much as I love all of the students of this school, often times I find myself a tad bit jealous of the awesome experiences they have.  When I was in middle school I didn’t have a quarter of the opportunities and experiences they have. From marine ecology class to learning how to scuba dive, these kids have it made in the shade. In addition to the exciting courses offered, these students are empowered to become young activists. When I was that age I was totally oblivious to global issues and was never challenged to think outside of the box. 

The School Without Walls (SWW) Unit at DCMS is 21st century learning at its best.  It’s an intensive interdisciplinary instructional unit that gets kids out in the community finding real solutions to real problems. This year for SWW, the eighth grade class at DCMS is tackling Plastic Pollution in South Eleuthera.   This six week course challenges students to investigate the ‘what’, ‘so what’ and ‘now what’ of the issue and propose and implement solutions to solve the problem. For our first class we left the bland walls of the classroom and headed to the beach to take a closer look at plastic that was washing in. Students were split into groups based on plastic debris categories, i.e food wrapping, household items, packaging, etc. Each group conducted surveys to determine the amount of plastic items found within their category while simultaneously performing a beach clean-up. The amount of debris that we came across was staggering! There were beverage bottles, plastic film, countless bottle caps, car tires, you name it –we found it. There was even a rusty refrigerator door laying on the beach. Seeing the first hand effects of our plastic consumption got our students fired up to raise awareness and promote change. Our young activists are on a mission. Stay tuned to see what they do next!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Plastic Pioneers Sprout Junior Activists (Loads of Cute Pics Inside)

I am proud to announce that the plastic team has successfully reached every school aged group possible; from kindergarten to elementary, middle through high school and even college level. We have had the pleasure of enlightening and empowering many young people on the issues of plastic pollution but my favorite group by far has been the mini scientists from the Island School Early Learning Center (ELC). Shortly before the holiday break I had the pleasure of working with six precious kiddies from the ELC aged 2-6 years old. We discussed what happens to plastic waste, acted out the gyre and even talked about plastic fragmentation in the marine environment via a song and dance I created called “Plastic Breaking”. It was epic, click here: ELC Plastic Song and Dance to view the video of these little cuties singing and dancing. These kids were on their A-game as most of them already knew what happened to the waste that we ‘throw away’ and offered solutions to the problem. After our mini lecture filled with dancing and fun we headed to the beach to do a mini clean up. All of the debris collected was used by the students to make beautiful pieces of art. I had such an amazing time working with the ELC crew, they were tons of fun! Thanks to the lovely Mrs. Cassie who made everything happen, can’t wait to do this all over again. 

Photo Credit: Erik Kruthoff

ELC kiddies acting out the gyre


Little ones searching for plastic

Putting plastic in the bucket

Plastic Team Visits Local Primary School to talk Trash

In September 2013 my outreach partner and dear friend Tiffany Gray and I sat on the couch of her apartment and devised an elaborate plan to deliver the message of plastic pollution to 4th, 5th and 6th graders of the North Eleuthera Primary School.  Initially we were in way over our heads as we planned to present a slideshow filled with graphic photos of turtles, whales and birds affected by plastic pollution in addition to some mind boggling facts. Once we arrived to the primary school we discovered that there was no way we were going to touch these students in a positive way by speaking at them and making them feel guilty for something they were unaware of. We wanted to be able to talk, play and relate to them instead via a different approach.

Once we got into the classroom the magic happened instantly!! We enlightened the students on the issues of plastic use by relating it back to their daily lives. To our surprise the students were well aware of the effects plastic pollution had on the marine environment. Within minutes we had the entire class on their feet acting out the ocean gyres (circulating currents that trap marine debris) and coming up with solutions to help tackle the issue. Before we left the school we got invited to talk to the 2nd graders about pollution and let me tell you the promise of this country resides in each and every one of those students. They were so excited to learn all about marine pollution and urged us to keep our beaches clean in an amazing turn of events. During our visit we spoke to over sixty kids! It was such an amazing experience empowering the younger generation of The Bahamas to make a change regarding their plastic choices. After all they will be the ones responsible for cleaning up the mess that our generation has created.

5th Graders say no to single use plastics 

2nd graders say keep our beaches clean

Beach Plastic Christmas Ornament Workshop with Barbara de Vries (Photos Inside)

On November 15 &16, 2013 the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Center (EACC) in Tarpum Bay hosted a beach plastic workshop lead by Miami artist and designer Barbara de Vries. Barbara started the organization Plastic is Forever  after she found plastic on the beach in Eleuthera. After falling  in love with these plastic items she began to make jewelry. As a fellow anti beach plastic pollution activist, she teaches local Bahamian kids about beach plastic through workshops. Barbara is AWESOME, I have been inspired tremendously by her and her beautiful work!

The workshop, which focused on utilizing beach plastic to create Christmas inspired ornamental art, drew participants from throughout South Eleuthera. Plastic pollution is an increasingly global issue and has detrimental effects on our environment and health. With our extensive coastline, the islands of The Bahamas are highly susceptible to severe plastic debris accumulation on its shorelines. This could potentially have a negative effect on the tourist industry as visitors travel from near and far, especially to experience the beautiful pink sand beaches of Eleuthera. The goal of the workshop was to empower locals to utilize discarded resources found on the beach and use it to develop artwork for a profit. The event was a success and inspired everyone to think creatively and view beach plastic in a different light. The Cape Eleuthera Institute team members were able to participate and create their own plastic Christmas ornaments. A great time was had by all!

Photo Credit: Barbara de Vries