These pirates will prioritize preservation over plunder.
Cayman’s Tourism Attraction Board is making a pitch to make this year’s Pirates Week Festival a more eco-friendly one with its Pirates Against Plastic campaign.
The Tourism Attraction Board has partnered with Plastic Free Cayman to host two beach cleanups and has eliminated the use of plastic from festival food courts and gift shops. It has been requested that all vendors at Pirates Week food courts use biodegradable containers and cutlery, which can be purchased through the gift shop.
The food containers on sale through the gift shop are made out of bagasse, a sugarcane pulp, and the utensils are made from corn starch. Participating bars will be free of plastic straws and the gift shop will be selling reusable tankards to replace one-use plastic cups.
“We want this to happen every year,” said Shayma Hamdi-Romanica, the marketing coordinator for the Tourism Attraction Board. “We hope other festivals and large events will follow suit. It’s very important we all contribute, and there’s so many small ways we can contribute, like not taking the plastic bags from the supermarkets. Just bring a canvas bag instead. It starts with the everyday stuff like plastic bags and straws.”
The Pirates Week Festival also will include two beach cleanups. One will be for locals, on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Barkers Beach in West Bay, hosted by Plastic Free Cayman. The other will be a “Voluntourism” event for eco-conscious visitors at Barkers on Monday, Nov. 12.
The Saturday cleanup will be focused on the area of Barkers around the kitesurfing location, while the Monday cleanup will meet at the horse-riding entrance.
“We have quite a large group of visiting pirates who come just for the festival and are staying in hotels and condos,” Ms. Hamdi-Romanica said. “We’re going to provide transport for them to Barkers Beach and provide them breakfast and cleanup tools.”
Ms. Hamdi-Romanica said the idea to make a plastic-free celebration came in the wake of Batabano, when there was a public outcry over the amount of litter and plastic on the roads after the celebration.
She recalled a food and wine show in Aspen, Colorado, she had attended that only used biodegradables, and began looking for a way to make it happen in Cayman. One of her peers, Lori-Ann Whittaker, found the steel mugs that will be on sale at the gift shop.
But the goal, Ms. Hamdi-Romanica said, is to impact the world one event at a time.
“Styrofoam is built to last forever,” she said. “They created this thing that will never be destroyed, but then that’s an issue because it never degrades. Most plastics take between 400 to 1,000 years to degrade, and some of them don’t fully degrade at all.”
The European Union recently announced a ban on certain single-use plastics, and Jamaica will no longer import plastic shopping bags and styrofoam starting in 2019.
Ms. Hamdi-Romanica said that more than eight million tons of plastics are dumped into the ocean every year, creating a problem of global proportions. That is especially worrisome for an island environment like Cayman and the Caribbean.