8:29 PM Thu 29 Sep 2011 GMT
A yachtie who has lived on her sailing boat for eight years in Sint. Maarten in the Caribbean and is a professional yacht crew has taken direct action to prevent plastic water bottles from despoiling her beautiful island home, writes Franki Black of The Triton:
'Sint Maarten - one yachtie is making a difference'
Elaine Christopher knows how important the yachting industry is to her adopted home of St. Maarten. But when she looks around to beaches littered with plastic water bottles, she knows it also has a cost.
Yacht crew and guests are big users of plastic water bottles, and Christopher has added a 100 percent biodegradable bottle to the line-up of sustainable products available through her sustainable packaging company, Good2Go.
'The yachting industry is a major consumer of imported goods and, in turn, a major source of waste in the Caribbean,' said Christopher, who lived on her sailboat for eights years and spent the past six as yacht crew and a placement agent based in Sint. Maarten. 'Ultimately, the islands carry the burden of waste disposal and plastic remains here for many years.
'Reducing the amount of plastic waste by substituting it with biodegradable alternatives will help to reduce the burden over time,' she said.
About a year ago, Good2Go joined forces with local bottling producer, Heavenly Water, to launch the first biodegradable water bottle produced in the Caribbean. It was introduced at the Heineken Regatta in March.
'Since March many local businesses have started to use our bottles and we are hoping that more and more crew will catch onto the trend in the upcoming season,' said Christopher Ahlip of Heavenly Water. 'The response at the regatta was outstanding and crew members were especially pleased with the water bottles. We targeted crew members because they drink a lot of bottled water and tend to be environmentally conscious, because of their relationship with the ocean.'
These water bottles start to decompose after 90 days yet are sturdy in design, making them stable for storage on yachts, Christopher said.
'Our bottles are the first totally biodegradable bottles to be produced in the Caribbean,' said Good2Go Production Manager Will Welch. 'Although there are other companies selling bottles with a plant content between 20 and 30 percent, there are actually very few 100 percent bio-bottles available anywhere in the world today.'
Yacht crew are aware of their impact on the fragile places they visit, and many have already taken steps to be environmentally conscious. Still, biodegradable water bottles have a draw.
'We serve water that is filtered on the boat to our owners, thereby reducing the need for plastic bottles,' said Stew Jodi Ritchie of M/Y Invader. 'As crew, we have consciously replaced plastic water bottles with stainless steel water bottles that simply need to be refilled with our filtered water.
'Nevertheless, there are still times that we resort back to plastic bottles and the bio-bottles would definitely compliment our environmentally aware ethos onboard.'
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by Franki Black, The Triton/Sail-World