Words by DJ Gravy
For a lush area of the world that’s synonymous with paradise, going green seems like a logical and necessary step for the Caribbean. There is a good amount of development happening right now and with that activity comes great responsibility for intelligent planning. Brand new “Green” status hotels are popping up, corporate industries are remodeling with eco-friendly policies–plus yacht and boating clubs are stepping their game up too, as the global standard has clearly been raised. In honor of Earth Day, we took a (virtual) trip down to the Islands to check what types of environmental progress and “green” initiatives are taking place.
The Yacht Soterion in all its glory
First off, Captain Ben from Yacht Soterion in the British Virgin Islands. He was an excited participant in this year’s BVI Charter Yacht Society Show at Village Cay Marina, Tortola—not just to show off his sleek yacht to visiting brokers, but to come fully on board with the green initiatives CYS put in place this year. Ben volunteered to do some pre-show coastal clean up, joining others in removing floating trash; on board, he pointed out aluminum water bottles that are part of the bedside welcome display and described the passive cooling system Soterion has for its water maker. Captain Ben reflects the growing environmental consciousness of sailors today.
What made the annual BVI Charter Yacht Show and Expo a success this year was not only record attendance by 70 yachts and 113 brokers, but the willingness of participants to embrace the program put in place by CYS Director, Janet Oliver with the help of Eco-Green coordinator, Jane Bakewell.
At the Friday evening Expo, businesses that partner with the yachting community joined in the green movement. A start-up company, Green Technology BVI, provided food vendors with soy-based plates and corn-based plastic ware—all biodegradable. Green VI, a non -profit environmental group, organized the glass recycling bins, while the BVI company Clear Water set up free water stations with pure distilled water. The topic of choice (other than yacht collector slang) was “corporate social responsibility.”
Jamaica’s largest road race, PanCaribbean’s Sigma Corporate Run, has gone “green” as well. PanCaribbean Financial Services Limited, the event’s organisers, have once again joined forces with the Protect the Environment Trust (PET). All plastic bottles and aluminium cans used during the event will be recycled, and participants are being encouraged to use less paper during registration.
“On race day, February 21, participants will be encouraged to dispose of the specified recyclables in the separate containers provided by PET, with PanCaribbean volunteers monitoring the containers,” said Karlene Dennis, assistant manager of group public relations for PanCaribbean Financial Services, in a release to the media.
“We started working with PET two years ago on this project and have begun to extend our recycling effort by cutting back on the paper usage during registration,” she added. PET, for its part, noted that there were many gains from recycling. “A friendlier environment means longer lasting plant and animal life. Research has revealed that it takes over a million years to break down plastics. Additionally, going green creates job opportunities because the process of recycling is very labour-intensive,” said one company representative.
Last year, the Sigma Corporate Run attracted approximately 10,000 participants and raised more than $14 million to benefit the Bustamante Hospital for Children Jamaica’s paediatric wards of the Spanish Town, May Pen, St Ann’s Bay, Savanna-la-Mar, Cornwall Regional and Mandeville Regional hospitals. The National Health Fund (NHF) and the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation were major sponsors of the event.
On the accommodation side of tings, the Caribbean’s hotel / resort industry is doing its best to stay ahead of the curve, and take full advantage of the spectrum of percs, from alternative energy resources with the use of solar panels to including vegetarian and vegan meals. The Tiamo, a hotel on the South Andros Island in the Bahamas claims, “We designed and built every bit of this luxury eco-resort by hand, meticulously utilizing existing resources to minimize its impact on a fragile ecosystem.”
Green Globe International, managers of Green Globe Certification, will be lending a supporting strategy to the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) as both a Strategic Partner of CHTA and a member of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) Governing Council. Green Globe will assist in educating CHTA members in meeting the requirements for its certification program, utilizing Green Globe reps in St. Vincent, Grand Cayman, Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Jamaica and Miami.
“We are pleased to add Green Globe Certification to our elite group of supporters of the Caribbean hospitality industry,” said Alec Sanguinetti, director general and CEO of CHTA. “The synergies between Green Globe Certification and our own CAST will bring enhanced awareness and benefits to our entire membership. They and our other Strategic Partners recognize the importance of tourism and the hospitality sector, and our impact on the economy of the region.”
“Since Green Globe’s inception in 1994, the Caribbean has had more Green Globe certified properties than any other region in the world,” said Guido Bauer, CEO of the California-based Green Globe Certification. “After many years supporting sustainable tourism in the Caribbean we are honored to take on such an important and prestigious role as a CHTA Strategic Partner and a member of the CAST Governing Council.”