The aim of the campaign is to reduce plastic pollution, by targeting single-use plastic bottles. This campaign was formulated in response to the visual and environmental impacts plastic waste is currently having here in the Cook Islands both on land, along our coastlines and within our EEZ.
Inspiration for the campaign came from work done by SPS “Save Philippine Seas”, an environmental organisation based in the Philippines.
The campaign works through partnering with business establishments, promoting alternative sources of drinking water containers through refilling stations where customers can refill reusable drinking bottles. Another way to reduce single use plastics is by only selling bottled water in larger containers, one litre and above.
It is hoped that as a result of a successful campaign, Rarotonga can aim to significantly reduce plastic waste from entering our environment, and hopefully create a behavioural change amongst visitors and our local people to utilise reusable drinking bottles and refill stations.
Two strategic options are provided for businesses to apply in their operation in order to be recognised as practicing under the “Plastic Battle” criteria, this includes.
Plastic bottle-free: Stop selling single-use plastic bottled water.
1. Plastic bottles will be removed from the restaurant/hotel.
• Filter and provide water in a reusable glass
• Serve water in a glass from bigger containers/water dispensers
• Serve water to rooms in jugs or reusable glass bottles
• Serve water to guests in restaurants in pitchers from water dispensers
2. Eliminate juice in plastic bottles or buy from juice companies whose product comes in paper containers, or serve fresh fruit juices instead
3. To inform guests ahead (eg upon confirmation of booking), that single-use bottles will not be available
4. To provide guests with or encourage the purchase of reusable drinking bottles during their stay or during island tours. Selling reusable drinking bottles could also be a good branding opportunity for your business.
5. Refill station: Allow walk-in guests to refill their containers for a fee or for free.
Single-use free day: You will not sell single use plastic bottles on specific day/s of the week!
1. On those special days, you may ban the use of single-use plastic bottles or offer only bottled water in containers 1litre and above.
2. You may designate two or more days as single-use free day.
3. Refill station: allow walk-in guests to refill their containers for a fee or for free
Business establishments, particularly those in tourism destinations, are valuable stakeholders in environmental conservation. Tourism has both positive and negative impacts: while tourism creates livelihoods and employment, the growth of tourism is also often proportional to the waste generated.
Therefore, it is crucial that we start raising awareness amongst our visiting guests and locals on these environmental issues.
This increased awareness that will in turn create a demand for eco-friendly products and services, overall opening opportunities for businesses to position themselves as sustainable and environmentally conscious eco-friendly partners here in the Cook Islands. #ManaTiaki #LoveALittleParadise #PlasticBattle.
This weekly column is supplied by Te Ipukarea Society. It deals with environmental and conservation matters of interest to the Cook Islands.