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Youth environmentalists meet UK Minister

Environment 02 Feb, 2022 Follow News

Youth environmentalists meet UK Minister

Last Friday 28 January, youth representatives from Plastic Free Cayman, Protect Our Future and the Mangrove Rangers met with the UK Minister of Overseas Territories Amanda Milling, the Governor Martyn Roper and other government representatives, to discuss key environmental issues facing Cayman.

Former Plastic Free Cayman youth ambassador and current Mangrove Ranger Cassandra MacDowell said it was a wonderful opportunity to speak with the Governor and Minister Milling about current threats that the local environment is facing, including sustainable development, coral reef protection and mangrove preservation.

Fellow Mangrove Ranger Haileigh Farrington said: “I believe that more intergenerational conversations including the knowledge from our elders’ past blended with innovative thinking from our youth, have the power to bring us closer to solutions for problems like our diminishing wetlands, our reliance on single use plastics and our threatened coral reefs.”

Also in attendance were Plastic Free Cayman volunteers and the leaders of Protect Our Future, Chloe Bentick-Lalli, Thomas Dickens, Nic Corin and Lili Aleria. Together, they spoke about the importance of local and international partnership, their involvement in COP26, and the significance of designated Mission Blue ‘Hope Spots’ as a means to preserve Cayman’s natural habitats.

As the Governor and Minister Milling departed for Little Cayman, the Protect Our Future students joined forces with Key Club and Leo Club leaders on Saturday morning at Barefoot Beach for Plastic Free Cayman’s monthly clean-up. Here, students took the lead. Out of the almost 50 volunteers, 80% were young people. Together they helped remove more than 300 pounds of litter and marine debris from the shore.

Clifton Hunter Key Club President Jerry Allen was excited to participate and said he was happy to help clean one of the many beautiful beaches on island, as a team. Key Club Clifton Hunter was looking forward to continuing to work alongside these organisations for the betterment of Cayman, he confirmed.

Protect Our Future leader Thomas Dickens, said the beach was littered with a variety of micro, medium, and large plastics.

“Reflecting on our meeting with Minister Miller yesterday, the concept of a single-use ban is ever more critical to revitalising the beauty of our beaches,” Thomas said.

Together, the youth continue to promote their “Our Future is NOT Single-Use” campaign in the hopes that at the very least, the Cayman Islands government will reconsider the initial 2020 plastic ban policy and align with many of the other Caribbean nations that have already taken this step, as the UK looks to do the same.

Brody Thomas, leader of CayOcean, volunteered at the event as his team aims to develop technology to address this problem, hoping to involve young Caymanians in the process.

“It's hurtful to know that plastic is floating out there and marine life is being impacted by it, but I find comfort in knowing actions here in Cayman to fight against this issue are being taken. These clean-ups remind us that we can fix this crisis, but we can’t do it divided," Brody said.

Francella Martin, Plastic Free Cayman clean-up coordinator said the strong youth turnout at their clean-ups was always inspiring, and they looked forward to the continued support of the community in their future efforts.

Plastic Free Cayman will be hosting their next clean up event on Sunday 20 February at Turtle Beach in West Bay, Grand Cayman.

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