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Protect Our Future launches new anti-plastic campaign

Front Pages 13 Dec, 2021 Follow News

Youth protecting our future. Photo credit Asaiah Thomas, Red Bay

As the landfill smoulders after another incident there, Thomas Dickens, Chloe Bentick-Lalli, Nic Corin and others of Protect Our Future have just launched their latest campaign, ‘Our Future is NOT Single-Use’.

Three months ago, Protect Our Future, Plastic Free Cayman, CayOcean and the Mangrove Rangers held an extensive beach clean-up event for World Clean-up Day. Across 13 locations and with 300 volunteers, over two tonnes of plastic was removed from Cayman’s shores. Although this event was a success, based upon Cayman's latest landfill statistics, these efforts only removed the total amount of plastic that Grand Cayman consumes in just over four minutes. This is a grievous problem, the Protect Our Future team said.

These findings prompted their latest campaign, which encompasses Cayman’s challenges with the overconsumption of resources, both natural and manmade. ‘Our Future is NOT Single-Use’ is a statement that speaks for itself, they said. Whether it is a call to action to protect Cayman’s mangroves, reefs and seagrass from destruction, or to limit plastic consumption, this campaign aims to shift Cayman’s narrative, Protect Our Future said. It was also a call to action for the consumer and the developer, for the politician and the small business owner, for the fisherman and the student.

“We all have our part to play,” they stated.

Protect Our Future began as an environmental banner campaign between four students back in 2019. Today, the grass-roots organisation has over 60 committed members from a variety of schools tackling environmental challenges of all shapes and sizes, from increasing environmental education to challenging unsustainable over development projects to evaluating the harmful impact sunscreen has on the health of our reefs. Protect Our Future has presented on the international stage, most recently at COP26. Both Dejea Lyons and Isabela Watler spoke on the impacts of climate change on small island nations, and the importance of intergenerational dialogue to create positive change.

The students of Protect our Future strongly believe that experiences and interactions with the natural world shape values and perceptions, which is why they continue to fight to preserve the environment. Unfortunately, the urgency of Cayman’s problems is often met with stalled policy and inaction, they said. This has led them to create dozens of environmental campaigns to raise community awareness.

Their summer docu-series, “Listen To Little, Learn From Grand” showed the depth and extent of damage to the Cayman Islands, in the hopes to stop projects like the Little Cayman Bungalow development and to improve inter-generational discourse. Luckily, there continues to be a shift in Cayman’s consciousness especially regarding the protection of the sister islands, the team said.

In conjunction with their campaign, Protect Our Future has also done several community outreach projects. Youth leaders Thomas Dickens, Evie Sweetman and Chiara Subiotto joined reuse centre advocates Tiffany Conolly and Mark Nicoll on Radio Cayman with Sterling D. Ebanks. They discussed the importance of establishing a reuse centre now, instead of several years down the road, as the ReGen project suggests.

On the food front, with thousands of pounds of serving containers sent to the dump each month, Protect Our Future delivered boxes of more sustainable take out trays to a variety of restaurants in Grand Cayman including Thai Orchid, Yoshi Sushi, Southern Spice, and Cimboco.

“Unfortunately, many restaurants still use polystyrene containers to store hot food, even with the known negative health and environmental consequences. Many business owners are unaware of the alternatives or may think the change would be too costly. However, plastic alternatives are becoming much more available,” they advised.

Protect Our Future continues to partner with Plastic Free Cayman, hoping to help reignite a future plastic ban on key items. Most people think of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. However, the most essential ‘R’ is Refuse. If we refuse some of our waste from the onset, we can limit so much more of our collective trash, they said.

Campaign organiser, Thomas Dickens, stated: “The solution to our problem is simple: cooperation. Please, Cayman, from your children, your grandchildren, and one day their children, let's make a change. Our future is not single-use.”

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