Antigua & Barbuda is the last stop on our eXXpedition. Just recently World Bank data showed that this small twin-island nation generates the 3rd highest amount of household waste in the world with 5.5 kg per capita per day alongside other Caribbean islands among the top generators of solid waste. We were told that people adapted a high-consumption-lifestyle over the last years, which results into an increase of solid waste. So today we visited the Cooks Sanitary Landfill in Antigua that basically has no sorting system in place.
To make it short: we were shocked. Especially as we came close to a bunch of cows who stood at the bottom of a huge mountain of waste they seemed to want to eat their way through and Jen just screamed: “Oh my God, I just saw that cow eating a plastic bag!”It was pretty scary to hear that acids, old motor oil and even medical waste (they take everything except body parts) would be buried inside that mountain of waste without further treatment.
But Antigua is trying to further increase the amount of recycling they do so they can reduce the amount of solid waste that goes to the landfill. Next we went to the Antigua & Barbuda Waste Recycling Cooperation where cans, cartons and some kinds of plastic are recycled. We learnt that most of it still comes from businesses and hotels but also that Antigua hasn’t installed a real recycling system for private households yet. At the moment kids can bring their recyclables to school for that.
Later in the afternoon we met with school kids and NGOs in the botanical garden of St. John’s where we talked about our mission and discussed how everyone can get involved and make a change. These kids, like so many others we met during our journey, were also very clever and well aware of the downsides of a wasteful lifestyle.
Antigua is making progress in terms of plastic pollution as the government banned the import of plastic bags last December and ruled to end the use of the remaining ones by June. To make the transition easier and get people involved, the government organized workshops on learning how to sew.
This way 100,000 textile bags have been created and given out to the population for free with the goal that everybody owns at least one. An even greater plan is to ban Styrofoam containers and cups, which would be an amazing achievement as they are really nasty material to deal with.
Although Antigua still has a long way to go, they are looking in the right direction.