Saturday, June 3, 2023

Young Activist Behind Country’s Plastic Ban Wins International Environmental Award

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Kristal Ambrose is the young woman that convinced the government to ban single-use plastic items in the Bahamas.

Ambrose was recently awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts, the award given to honor grassroots environmental heroes around the world.

Ambrose, the 30-year-old native of Eleuthera led a local campaign, creating an “upcycled” program to motivate students to repurpose plastic waste.

Photo credit: Dorian Curtis Jr. and Jawanza Small

She soon drafted legislation to share with the government on the issue of plastic use in the country and travelled to Nassau in January 2018 to meet Minister of Environment Romauld Ferriera to discuss her solution for the problem of plastic pollution.

Ferreira promised he would address it and later that year, the government announced a plan to address the issue, while banning single-use plastic bags, food utensils, straws, and Styrofoam in January 2020.

Ambrose told UK media, “In the Bahamas, it’s a really big deal because we receive the world’s waste as well as producing our own. This is paradise, until you look closely. Then you see the plastic pollution that washes in with the Sargasso Sea.”

Photo credit: Goldman Prize

Ambrose is studying marine waste in Sweden and wants to use her research to build stronger organizations and awareness in the Bahamas.

“We need to bridge the gap between community and science. It is no good publishing research every year if the information is not going to the people,” she said. “Plastic is just a tool.

“It’s about way more than that. It’s about helping young people to find their voice and recognize we are in this together.”

Ambrose was one of many environmental winners. Chibeze Ezekiel of Ghana was awarded for his four-year grassroots efforts, prompting his government to halt the construction of a 700-megawatt coal power plant. Nemonte Nenquimo of Ecuador led an indigenous campaign to protect 500,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest. Leydy Pech of Mexico, stopped the planting of genetically modified soybeans in southern Mexico. Lucie Pinson of France pressured France’s largest banks to stop financing new coal projects and companies.

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