Celebrating Earth Day in South Eleuthera

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Over the weekend, Cape Eleuthera Island School (CEIS) celebrated the 7th annual Earth Day Fest hosted by One Eleuthera at the Center for Training and Innovation (CTI) in Rock Sound. As a day dedicated to celebrating and advocating for a healthy planet, this year’s theme was “End Plastic Pollution in Paradise”. The event embodied this theme by communicating the need to reduce our impact on the environment and emphasized CTI as a plastic bottle free recycling site. Community members joined together for good food, music, and an exciting educational experience focused on reducing plastic waste.

Eleuthera has been at the forefront of the strong environmental push being felt across the Bahamas since the start of 2018. As part of a small island nation, Eleuthera is negatively impacted by plastic pollution on a local and national scale with dramatic ripple effects on one of its most viable resources, the ocean. This environmental agenda has been strongly influenced and led by student activism. Students from South Eleuthera, as members of the Bahamas Plastic Movement and Deep Creek Middle School (DCMS), have successfully advocated for a ban on single-use plastics and styrofoam to the Minister of the Environment. The Ministry has committed to focus on the elimination and ban of single-use plastics and styrofoam containers for food and beverages by 2020.

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The same student activists, among others, participated in the Earth Day Fest. Deep Creek Primary School (DCPS) Plastic Club and DCMS Eco-Club collaborated with Preston H. Albury High School and Mr. Will Simmons to educate community members on the issues surrounding single-use plastics and on some of the more sustainable alternatives. These included reusable Lutra bags and t-shirt bags designed and hand-crafted by DCMS Eco Club and DCPS Plastic Club members.

The day opened with a welcome speech by One Eleuthera after which community members, young and old, meandered through the various educational stations. Booths ranged from basket weaving, waste-to-art, renewable energy, and the marine environment. CEIS was invited to share our current exciting research and sustainability projects.

A model aquaponics system was set up, allowing staff from CSD to engage community members on the sustainability and benefits of this closed loop food production system. Engineers from CSD peaked curiosity with their solar set-up and shared the benefits of renewable energy alternatives.

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Researchers from CEI engaged in discussions to #PassOnParrotfish and shared marine and environmental education. Participants were very interested in sea turtles and the research on plastic marine debris and the negative impact it has on marine organisms.

The event was an outreach opportunity to connect the local community with the work we do as an organization in relation to plastic pollution and ways we as a larger community can preserve the environment by living sustainably. Many people attended the event, closing the day feeling inspired and motivated to make a change in their behavior and relationship to plastic.