All is Not Perfect in the Grand Cayman Paradise

(or “Please Do Not Feed the Plants”)

by Anne Evans

There 1s a self-perpetuating myth on this Island.

Specifically, that the Island is covered by trash-eating foliage that must be fed to survive.

The neediest trees and shrubs are those furthest back from the roads and walkways. Thus, the further one throws their trash into the foliage, the faster it will be consumed. Favorites are fast-food + their plastic/Styrofoam containers + plastic sacks, cans, glass beer bottles and plastic water bottles. Trees are particularly delighted when beer and water bottles are left inside the cervices of their tree trunks as this makes for a quick, easy snack.

Additionally, the native trees adore pretending that they are Christmas Trees when plastic bags full of trash are hung from their branches as though they are ornaments.

Fact versus Fiction …

During our first year here on Grand Cayman, I found myself walking at least 3x a week through “trashed” areas on my way to the Grocery Store or to run errands. So, I would take a large trash bag, pick up trash along the way and dispose of it appropriately when I reached my destination. (I picked up this habit in Miami — IMO, the capital of roadside trash in the USA — while we lived in an extended stay hotel for 4 months  prior to our ultimate transition to Grand Cayman. I thought when we left Miami, I was done with “Trash Walks”. Not so.) Now we have a car. Yet, I continue to do my “Trash Walks”. However, I now also drive to further areas throughout this Island to do additional clean ups.

Trash is pervasive. From Barker’s Beach to East & South End to Rum Point, it is everywhere.

I have only once caught anyone in the act of insulting Mother Nature. It was during a charity walk/run on West Bay Road on a Sunday Morning. I saw a participant toss a plastic water bottle into the bushes. I stopped and stared at her dumbfounded and just shook my head at her in disbelief. I crossed the street, picked up the bottle and disposed of it in a trash receptacle.

Littering is a crime that carries a fine of KY$500 or 6 months imprisonment – however, I have yet to see it enforced.

I have been able to make a difference with my trash walks. Among them is the parking area of Governor’s Beach – one of the most popular and scenic publi.c beaches along the 7 Mile Beach Corridor.

As the name suggests, it is right next door to the Governor’s Residence . . .  is she even aware of the trash adjacent to her residence? And yet within 25 yards of the beach’s shore line, there lies the parking area which is a pig pen of trash. It took me 5 visits to clean up the area and now Monday and Friday visits to maintain it. There are many, many more areas of natural beauty throughout Grand Cayman now scarred by litter . . . and the problem is so massive, I doubt I can do it all.

It is not unusual for people to stop and thank me for or assist me with my efforts. Drivers too give me a friendly toot on their horn to acknowledge my efforts. Construction site personal have given me gloves and permission to use their on-site dumpsters to support my efforts.

Limited recycling (GOVKY – Cayman Islands Government – For Information and Service) and perpetuation of the availability of single use plastic containers just feeds the abuse of the environment. Unlike other Caribbean Islands, here in The Caymans, there are no restrictions on availability of single use (plastic) containers – and they are abundant. Glass recycling has been “put on hold.” There is no curbside pick up; only public “drop off” locations.

Given our attempts to eliminate our personal use of single use plastics, Rick and I were initially met with surprise when we began bringing reusable containers to the grocery stores for our deli and salad take out purchases – as well as  purchases from the fresh meat and sea food case. Now the staff recognize us, so it is not an issue. However, we pay a premium for providing our reusable containers, because it adds to the weight of our purchase. How odd . . . to pay a premium for purchases made with our personal containers. What is wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t we be rewarded (and other customers be incentivized) for making purchases in reusable containers that actually spare the grocery stores (environmentally unfriendly) packaging costs?

Are The Cayman Islands destined to become the Garbage Dump of the Caribbean?

This certainly seems to be the path they are walking at present. How sad.

Please, should you come to visit or live in our little corner of (once-upon-a time) paradise, remember:

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem:

  • Bring reusable containers and shopping bags when you grocery shop
  • Dispose of your trash responsibly
  • When you enjoy an evening dining out, bring your own take away containers (it can be done stylishly)

Please – my husband  and our kitty adore these Islands. Help us return them to their clean and pristine state.

Smudge the cat's signature

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