I am working as the Education and Outreach Fellow with Think Beyond Plastic on the Bay Islands of Honduras to raise awareness of the marine plastic pollution problem and encourage local solutions.
Man, it’s unreal that we’re already halfway through our project here! Time has literally flown by! In the past month I’ve been able to organize and coordinate the Ocean Ambassador Program and Plastic Free Schools Campaign with students from all three Bay Islands. I just returned from Bay Island’s smallest island, Guanaja where I completed training and preparation to launch a plastic reduction competition among the island’s public schools. Students will be collecting the plastic from their daily consumption, documenting their reduction efforts, and creating a mural/recycled art show at the end of the competition with the plastic they collected!
During my trip to Guanaja I was able to work with the municipality and school directors to expand education efforts about plastic pollution. I organized teacher training materials and curriculum that will be passed on to the teachers on the island to incorporate into existing curriculum.I hosted daily charlas and art activities at the local library. Guanaja is the most remote of the Bay Islands and I made sure to make time to explore a little. The only mode of transportation is via boat, and I was able to venture by boat to many of the coastal beaches and communities of the island. I traveled to the beach where Christopher Columbus apparently first set foot on the island. I stayed on one smallest Caye of the island, where the municipality is located. Most people get around by foot, there are no bikes, motorcycles or cars allowed. I connected with the island’s mayor, Spurgeon, who is very supportive of our work and is hoping to make Guanaja the first “green island”. He just passed a law banning plastic straws on the island, and is hoping to make more progress with other plastic bans.
So far, I have loved to opportunity to work with students and youth again. Their energy and enthusiasm are contagious! I am very excited about the group of students who are participating in the Ocean Ambassadors program on all three islands. They are passionate about marine conservation and are working towards transforming the program into a student club at their schools! I am looking forward to scaling up the Ocean Ambassador program into a student club on the islands. There is also a lot of support among the school administrators for the educational programs I am launching, which has really helped! This support for environmental education is largely due to the excellent work of local conservation NGO’s we work with like Roatan Marine Park, and Bay Islands Conservation Association. We are excited to support Roatan Marine Park’s Reef Festival coming up at the end of July, their theme this year is plastic pollution! The dive shops will be competing to construct murals out of plastic. Roatan has a lot of great initiatives and projects in place to beat the plastic pollution problem, and we are stoked to be a part of it!
Next week, Karl and I will be heading to Utila to visit Saba for our team’s final hooray before he leaves the Bay Islands. We will be there for Utila’s Carnaval, and we are planning to organize Green Teams with portable recycling stations to help keep the event clean. I will be training the next group of Ocean Ambassadors while I am there and I am excited to continue our other projects on Utila!