With environmental conservation becoming one of the primary issues that must be addressed in order to combat climate change and global warming, through a partnership with Oceanic Global, the Sandals Foundation has engaged local businesses in Salt Marsh, Jamaica to increase its capacity in marine conservation. The businesses were assessed through Oceanic Global’s Blue Standard to ensure environmentally responsible practices are in place, and business leaders are taught the importance of implementing comprehensive sustainability measures to protect the local marine environments.
Robyn Young, trained Blue Consultant and Local Sustainability Professional with Oceanic Global, explained how this cross-industry standard by Oceanic Global, empowers industries and businesses of all sizes to achieve measurable impact that protects the marine ecosystems and establishes universal accountability for sustainable business leadership.
“One of the core functions of the Blue Standard (Blue) is to help businesses reduce/eliminate the use of single-use plastics and learn how they can improve waste management, and how all of this can be incorporated into operating business sustainably,” shared Young.
She further added, “Blue also offers Product and Packaging seals that verify Consumer Packaged Goods for meeting Blue’s plastic-free criteria, as well as step-by-step auditing and consultation support, open-sources resources, and buying deals with vetted vendors to help businesses make strides toward these goals. The two complementary offerings work together to enable businesses to make a measurable impact in protecting our blue planet.”
Four small businesses, Cuckoo’s Place, H& J Fitness, Crab Seafood Bar & Grill, and Monica’s Bar & Rest Stop, participated in training with Oceanic Global, receiving individual consultations and being equipped with the resources to incorporate comprehensive sustainability measures into their operations.
Sasha-Kay Doman, Receptionist at Cuckoo’s Place who now has received 2-Star Blue Standard verification, shared that as a result of the training, the team has a better understanding of how they can elevate the business’ operations by becoming more environmentally friendly.
“Our small-family-sized hotel is located across the road from the mangroves, which are a habitat for a variety of organisms that contribute to the health of the existing ecosystems on which we all rely in this community, so we have to do our best to preserve that,” Doman said.
She continued, “We were taking small steps to be more environmentally friendly and had a recycling cage installed by Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) prior to the training with Oceanic Global. Since the training, we’ve been highlighting locally-sourced menu items and begun using biodegradable materials and are looking into other ways to operate in a more environmentally sustainable manner.”
Georgia Scarlett, Environmental Projects Coordinator at Sandals Foundation, stated that it was critical for the non-profit to support these businesses in learning how their actions can positively protect and sustain the mangroves.
“Islands in the Caribbean, like many other Small Island Developing States, have our lives and livelihoods concentrated 5km from the coast. For this project, businesses were selected either directly on the beach, and across the road with no business is further than 1 km. It is therefore important for the businesses to understand that their processes may impact the marine environment. This project strengthened their understanding of the need for conservation practices and sustainable materials while providing the businesses with recycling bins to encourage the activities after the completion of the project.”
Young also weighed in on the anticipated impact of the businesses becoming Blue verified on the community and the environment.
“Mangrove education is critical, especially in Salt Marsh, which has lush mangroves lined along its coast. Through this training, the businesses and by extension, residents learned a lot and now understand the role of mangroves in serving as a habitat for sea organisms and birds, and that, mangroves sequester more carbon than other trees because they get it from both the atmosphere and the water,” she explained.
“It also gives businesses the opportunity to increase and improve their recycling habits. Because it is a beachfront community, it is important that residents recycle and reduce plastic litter so that it does not end up in the sea and affect those ecosystems or hinder the livelihoods of the residents who depend on healthy seas to sustain their families,” she added.
These businesses are making waves and have joined a global community of industry leaders pioneering sustainable business practices through the reduction of single-use plastics through operations, highlighting locally-sourced menu items, and implementing a thorough waste management and recycling programme.
The Sandals Foundation is committed to protecting the Caribbean’s breath taking natural resources and the unique ecosystems that support their health. Through efforts of preserving and nurturing the unique natural treasures, the non-profit collaborates with local and international stakeholders like Oceanic Global to build awareness and stewardship, therefore enriching the region’s biodiversity, reducing marine and terrestrial litter, and protecting vulnerable flora and fauna to ensure that native and endemic species thrive.