Born in 1970 (like me!) Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd. Things have come a long way since I was a child, but with the effects of climate change becoming more and more evident, there is still a long way to go in helping Mother Earth. Here on St Croix where its summer year-round, we enjoy outdoor living and spend a lot more time in nature whether it’s out on the ocean or in our own backyards. So, every day it’s important that we take the time to monitor and minimize our own personal impact on this beautiful island. Here are 5 ways that you can help whether you live here or are just visiting our island home:
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle St Croix!
While we don’t have a formal government recycling effort here on the US Virgin Islands, yet (note I said “yet” as I am always hopeful they will come around) … over the past year or so there has been a widely successful Volunteer Plastic Recycling program headed up by Plaza West Grocery store.
Each Saturday you’ll find volunteers in the Plaza Extra West parking lot from 7:00am to noon collecting CLEAN plastic for recycling. There are also several other island locations, schools and organizations that are participating.
To find a list of current St Croix drop-off spots click here to go to the Volunteer Recycling Project FaceBook page. Plaza Extra West takes care of crushing, preparing and shipping the plastic to an off island facility. Kudos to Plaza West for being such excellent community members!
- Clear and LIGHT colored plastic containers with the covers removed (they can also be recycled but should be removed and then thrown in the bag)
- Water, Soda & Sports Drink bottles
- Gallon Water, Milk, Juice, Tea jugs
- Butter, Yogurt, Icecream, grated cheese containers
- Condiment bottles
- Jelly & Nut butter containers
- Detergent, Bleach & Cleanser bottles
- Cooking Oil Bottles
- Loose plastic and plastic bags
- Dark Colored plastics
- Laundry Baskets
- Motor Oil Containers
Keep it Cool
On St Croix and throughout the Caribbean islands, fresh water is a precious commodity. Most of us use cisterns (big holding tanks instead of basements) to catch and use rainwater at our homes. For that reason, unfortunately, many local restaurants and beach bars serve up your favorite Cruzan cocktails in plastic or styrofoam (boo!!!).
Thankfully, due to local campaigns many restaurants have stopped using disposable straws (or only serve them upon request). But, many still use disposable plastic and styrofoam cups and containers ?. Nowadays there are great sustainable options for single use cups, flatware and straws like corn-based plastic (still not ideal) or bamboo. So, please help us to encourage local restaurants to switch to non-plastic, sustainable single-use cups, takeout boxes, straws and flatware to reduce the amount of trash headed to our landfills.
Better yet, bring your own reusable insulated cup and takeout containers! I LOVE my Corksicle tumbler for keeping my Cruzan Rum and soda ice cold and my steel straw for sipping beachside. There’s even a great Corksicle Canteen that holds a full bottle of wine chilled. I bring mine most everywhere I go and throw it in the dishwasher when I get home.
Carry In, Carry Out
There’s a frequently used phrase heard in many National Parks and wild spaces … Leave only Footprints, Take only Pictures. Do the same here on our island please. It should be a no brainer, but be sure if you are visiting one of our beaches to bring along an extra trash bag. All beaches in the United States Virgin Islands are public. However, they do not have regular trash pickup (or really any). So, be sure that you carry out any and ALL trash and items that you bring to the beach. Don’t leave behind your cigarette butts, beer cans or plastic cups. They end up in our oceans or littering our beaches. Pick up your trash and any other that you find on the beach. PLEASE do your part to protect our oceans!
Show Your Love for our Coral Reefs
Part of the draw of St Croix is our incredible barrier coral reef. Three quarters of St Croix is surrounded by the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean! And of course there’s the coral reef out at Buck Island National Monument. The coral reef is home to a plethora of brightly colored fishes and other marine life that make for some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. However, worldwide coral reefs face many challenges, including warming ocean temperatures. But, one of the great threats to our reefs are the chemicals that you bring with you on your skin when you wear sunscreen. Oxybenzone, commonly found in many sunscreens, has been shown to not only kill the coral polyps that grow the reef, but its also a known carcinogen. Be sure that when you are on St Croix you are using Coral Reef Safe Sunscreens to protect yourself AND our precious coral reef system. Learn more: Sunscreens a Threat to Coral Reefs
BYOB Bring Your Own Bag
The US Virgin Islands has also recently banned single-use plastic bags. So be sure you bring a reusable shopping bag when you head to the market or shopping for souvenirs. Our washable Canvas tote bags are a great option and hold a ton of produce. They also make great beach bags!
By taking a little time and personal responsibility, we can all leave the Earth better for the next generation. What are some of your best eco-friendly tips? Share them for us in the comments below!