Green Musings of an Eco Resort

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guest suggestions

From time to time we'll get some interesting suggestions from guests in our guest surveys and comment boxes. Occasionally we'll see the same suggestions 2 or 3 times in one batch of 30 or so surveys.

The question that kept coming up last week revolved around recycling plastic bottles, perhaps our all-time most popular question/request/suggestion depending on the wording. This week: "please start recycling newspaper and plastic bottles. I saw an employee just pitching these from the recycling bins into regular trash cans."

As crazy as it may sound to most of those reading this, St. John and the USVI as a whole does not recycle anything. There's no separating trash either at home or at the dump, everything goes in the trash. To each and every vacationer on this island our lack of recycling just doesn't make any sense. For the past 20+ years recycling has just been something you do now, how could there still be places that don't recycle, right? Coming from anywhere in the U.S., a place where the vast majority of waste is recycled and very little is actually "trash" to a place like St. John where everything is thrown into trash cans can be a little drastic for most vacationers.

To be fair there was a community effort a couple years ago (and is still in operation) to start recycling aluminum soda cans. The bins, the collection, the signs, everything is all done by volunteers. So yes, on a volunteer basis we do now recycle something on this island!

Maho Bay Camps as an eco-resort has always had a hard time dealing with waste and trying to reduce the amount of trash we generate when recycling on the island doesn't exist. We've done a considerable amount since our inception, perhaps the holy grail of which would be the crushing and melting of glass collected here on camp that is turned into art & practical wares, then sold here at Maho and online.

So the plastic bottles and newspapers being pitched into the trash can by our employees? If anyone has a suggestion on what to do with the hundreds of plastic bottles we still collect weekly please let us know!

So far?

1) we don't sell 20oz plastic soda bottles (only cans). Last year we sold 9,360 20oz soda bottles!
2) our bottled water selection is down to 2 different sizes, one of which is made entirely from plants
3) the only newspapers we carry at Maho are a weekly paper and a monthly paper/magazine

One idea we've had so far for the plastic bottles would be to carry one or two home in your suitcase when departing and recycle them once home. We could have a bin available next to registration and upon checking-out guests could squeeze one or two into their suitcases. Not quite the solution to our island recycling problem but a start?

The good news is that when I went out to take a picture for this post today at 2:30pm (6 hours after we collected trash & recycling) it took looking at 3 separate recycling bins on camp before finding a plastic bottle in one of them! I'm hoping it means not having so many plastic options in the store has paid off, instead of the other option: we're really good at just throwing them straight into the trash now.


Anonymous said...

While Living on STJ I was part of the recycling committee (with Bobby Flanagan among others). We had coordinated having recyclables (bottles & cans) taken to Puerto Rico and/or Miami for recycling in empty shipping containers that brought goods to STJ. Collection area was set up in Cruz Bay near DMV. Sad to think that all that effort was not continued and that they are all being buried & burned on STT.

esp said...

I love reading this blog-keeps me close to Maho while wintering up north. The comments are very thoughtful and informative. Thanks!