On the 5th of June 2018, Port Vila town was bustling with happy children, all active and excited with cleaning up the whole town even under the gloomy and rainy weather to commemorate the World Environment Day with the theme BEATING PLASTIC POLLUTION.
The Capital of Vanuatu- Port Vila had a general cleanup to create Plastic free areas together with 25 schools. Citizens and residents have all joined their communities, involving hundreds of people in the general clean up.
Eyes on the future, one volunteer at a time. Ken Andrew White, an active member of the community who has led this whole initiative together with Carlos Noronha who is working on a development partner program, have received a lot of support since they first started the action towards eradicating plastic waste in the country. Ken has repeatedly mentioned their gratitude to all those involved, including Vanuatu Institute of Technology, Ministry of Education, Vanuatu Climate Action Network, Port Vila Municipality, Activ Association, Bastian Foundation, Pango Green Force, RMS, Vanuatu Environmental Science Society, Port Vila Land Transportation Association, Bus drivers, Vanuatu Police Force, and a special mention to Digicel for allowing them to spread the word by sponsoring them through Mass Communication Awareness Campaign throughout the whole island of Efate by sponsoring them with SMS flights and providing them newspaper ads and radio interviews with Buzz FM and FM 107.
The idea could not be simpler, stop using plastic. If you cannot recycle it, don’t use it. He emphasized that the whole world recognized Vanuatu as a paradise on earth, “and we would want to keep it that way.” Ken said. “We do not want to spoil that by recycling companies to come to the country, creating more pollution.” He has great confidence that we would not be needing that, if we all do our part, and especially now that the Government has banned the use of plastic bags, and becoming the first country in the world to ban plastic straws.
The Vanuatu Government’s action on the plastic ban it will be totally implemented by the month of July, making sure that there will be no more supermarket, takeaway plastic bags, and straws used, including the import of plastic in the country.
“The 5th of June is not the only day to pick up plastic pollution, it should be an everyday thing, and each person should do their part. People should put their rubbish on the right place.” Ken mentioned. “We do it for free,” and we are very grateful for everyone who supported this initiative.
All the schools and communities involved in the clean-up process were:
Erakor Village, Erakor Half Road, Erakor Bridge, Port Vila International school, Saint Josef School Epauto school, Namburu Lycee INTV Fresh wota school, SURVAIVAL school,Sorvanga school, Goodwill school, Vila north school, Malapoa school, Tebakor School, Kaweno school, Ecol public Sesintac, Central Vila East, Colardoux Child care Sea-side Play time No.2 SDA , Pango Village, Pango school
Plastic waste was disposed in their respective fields, where trucks provided by responsible businesses and organizations disposed it at Etas.
Ken Andrew White and Carlos Noronha have both expressed their deep gratitude towards the contribution of everyone’s generosity, and has also mentioned their heartfelt acknowledgement to Kristel Tingzon, Digicel’s Mass Communication Manager, who has been a key part in giving rise to help bring Vanuatu’s World Environment Day’s campaign into fruition, and Yaser Maher, the company’s CEO, for his big heart in granting the sponsorship. There are many people to thank, and Ken says: “My thought is just like this-- it has to do with your heart, and your brain will make the connection which will transform your thoughts and feelings into action.” It is so important that as a nation we come together to support this campaign. We are a nation of many people but together our hearts beat the same. When we put our hearts and heads together we can find a way to show the rest of the world how we as a people can change for the better. To care for our environment is to care for this beautiful place we all share together. “I say to my people when the thoughts in our heads and the passion in our hearts come together we can make a difference.”
This is only the beginning, but the future is looking inspired for this country. Well done Vanuatu, and well done Ken and Carlos!