In this series of articles, we’re spotlighting conservation organizations focused on ocean protection and how you can get involved to help protect our oceans. Today we’re chatting with Kristal Ambrose, the founder of the Bahamas Plastic Movement.
What does Bahamas Plastic Movement do?
We are committed to raising awareness and finding solutions to plastic pollution in the Bahamas through youth activism. We are engaged in public education, beach cleanups, scientific research and public policy aimed at reducing plastic debris at the source.
How did it start?
In 2012, my passion for the issue sparked after sailing across the Pacific Ocean to study the Western Garbage Patch with the 5 Gyres Institute. For nearly 20 days I was surrounded by water, wildlife and waste — plastic waste especially. Consequently, I realized that the garbage floating in the ocean belonged to me. I realized that I was a part of the problem, but also a part of the solution.
Following the expedition, I launched a citizen-science initiative called the Plastic Beach Project, which involved locals participating in data collection on marine-plastic debris abundance and composition. As the project progressed, I kept envisioning this mass exodus of people moving toward a plastic-free future and I would jokingly say this is the “Bahamas Plastic Movement.” It never registered to me what was happening until one night on my couch I decided that I was going to start a non-profit and here we are five years later.
How many people are involved and what are their roles?
We are a true grassroots organization with no staff, just volunteers. I lead the research, education, fundraising, social media, logistics and all of that good stuff. But when it comes to making things happen, I rely heavily on my family and friends especially Will Simmons from Space 2 Create, the Tarpum Bay Community of Eleuthera, my students, my parents — it really takes a village.
What are the main areas of focus?
Our main pillars are research, education, citizen-science and policy change as it relates to plastic-pollution solutions. We work to understand plastic-debris movement patterns around the Bahamas and connects our citizen scientists to collecting this data. Our Plastic Pollution Education and Ocean Conservation summer camp exposes our students to the issue of plastic pollution using science, art, and youth activism. Most recently, our youth delegation successfully engaged the Bahamian government in enacting a ban on single-use plastics and balloon releases for 2020.
How can people help?
We always need a helping hand so for those who want to assist, they can donate to our organization through our website.
Photos courtesy of Bahamas Plastic Movement