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Bahamas Plastic Camp Studies Global Impacts

The Bahamas Plastic Camp, created and instructed by Kristal Ambrose, a young Bahamian obtaining her degree in Environmental Science at Gannon University, was held on July 13-14 at Friends of the Environment’s Frank Kenyon Research Centre in Marsh Harbour.

During those two days, the participants—all teenagers—learned about the local and global impacts of plastic pollution through science and art. On the first day, they dissected regurgitated pellets from a Pacific Albatross, to analyze its diet. The seabird had consumed large amounts of foreign material, mostly plastic, that did not belong in its stomach. On the second day, they fo-cused on creating jewelry and accessories with plastic pieces they collected during a beach cleanup at Bahama Palm Shores.

The plastic camp is a major program of The Bahamas Plastic Movement, a non-profit organization that was founded by Ms. Ambrose. This summer, the main Bahamas Plastic camp was held in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera. Mini camps were held on Exuma, Abaco, and Harbour Island.

Kristal Ambrose and Cha Boyce (center left and right) with two campers cleaning the beach.
Kristal Ambrose and Cha Boyce (center left and right) with two campers cleaning the beach.

Ambrose’s goal is not only to recycle, but to combat the use of plastic products all together. Not only has she taught young people how to make discarded plastic into reusable products, but she has also made sure that the containers and utensils they used during the camp were not made of plastic or Styrofoam. Metal drinking vessels and straws and bamboo cutlery were distributed to the participants. The bags used to pick up trash from beaches were not plastic, but made of jute.

Ambrose’s mission, she explained, is to build the community’s education and activism against plastic pollution in The Bahamas by holding camps for young people whenever she is in the country.

After sailing across the Pacific Ocean in 2012 to study the Western Garbage Patch, Ambrose was inspired to return home to The Bahamas to spark a plastic pollution revolution. For the past two and a half years she has been working diligently on plastic pollution research and education in her country. In 2013, she began The Plastic Beach Project; a citizen science based initiative that studies plastic concentrations on beaches in The Bahamas.

Her passion for the issue led her to develop and launch The Bahamas Plastic Movement. Since embarking on her journey for change with The Bahamas Plastic Movement, she has brought awareness of the issue to thousands locally and globally. Most recently, Ambrose was awarded the 2014 Environmental Youth Leader Award from The Government of The Bahamas for her efforts.

Friends of the Environment (FRIENDS) was pleased to partner with Ms. Ambrose to offer her programs in Abaco. FRIENDS Program Coordinator Olivia Patterson Maura said “Ms. Ambrose is a great role model for Bahamian youths. Her passion and drive for positive change are infec-tious and her mission for a more sustainable Bahamas is exactly what we want to support.”

Kristal Ambrose, standing second from left in blue, with Bahamas Plastic campers. The Camp, held July 13-14 at Friends of the Environment’s Frank Kenyon Research Centre, taught local and global impacts of plastic pollution through science and art.
Kristal Ambrose, standing second from left in blue, with Bahamas Plastic campers. The Camp, held July 13-14 at Friends of the Environment’s Frank Kenyon Research Centre, taught local and global impacts of plastic pollution through science and art.

The participants in the Abaco camp were composed of a mixed group of young people, with the island of Eleuthera well represented, as it seems that Ambrose has rallied a good crowd of volun-teers among the youth of her island. Destinee Outten and Tyrin Culmer, both from Eleuthera, had a display of artifacts—bags, purses, vests—they created from recycled juice pouches collected from Tarpum Bay Primary School. Another camp counselor, Jamie Pelicanos, was also from Eleuthera. Jacoby Bethel, a participant from Abaco, was looking forward to the afternoon session of jewelry making.

If you would like more information about The Bahamas Plastic Movement visit www.bahamasplasticmovement.org

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