Keeping the ‘Green’ in Jamaica

Mini Food Forest

When I was living in the UK, I had the pleasure of working my allotment for three years which included open land, raised beds and a small greenhouse. I won’t say it wasn’t without its trials and tribulations, but the experience was unforgettable. To be working the land, watching as Mother Nature did her thing producing food, with a little care and attention from me was so fulfilling. I ate and shared organically produced vegetables and fruit, and still had plenty to spare.

In the UK we are going full circle and there is a shift towards how we lived years ago when we practised the mantra of ‘Grow What we Eat and Eat What we Grow’. It’s now high fashion to recycle, pursue crafts, Make Do and Mend, keep chickens for eggs and tend vegetable patches, or allotments.  These are all in high demand even in London, where the produce is something to share and warmly boast over with friends. Ironically, I feel that this way of living is the way forward, although it is in fact the way back. Once declining methods, that have been practised for generations and only kept alive in small ‘cottage’ industries, are having their embers stoked to become flourishing with activity again. I believe that it would be beneficial to Jamaican’s, if this way of living was more understood and accepted in Jamaica too.

Grow What You Eat Jamaica

Spending time in Jamaica over the last 7 years I have noticed that very few people have their own vegetable patch, although a fruit tree or two is often present in the yard. This has always occurred to me as something that is strange, as there is so much space, fertile land and more importantly hungry bellies to fill. Even the smallest amount of space can produce a valuable source of organically grown food right on your doorstep, and if done in the right way, there is minimal financial outlay involved. The crops can be planted in containers or raised beds, so that they can harvested as needed and this food source will supplement the diet and the cooking pot.

I appreciate that there is a wealth of information in the UK that directly relates to the merits of recycling, being sustainable, using alternative farming practises and the health benefits associated with ‘going organic’, but that isn’t necessarily widely available in Jamaica. Which is probably why many of these industries are in a developmental stage at the moment and some people burn or throw away plastic and other trash and heavily use chemicals in the production of their crops. In a country where rubbish collection isn’t available island-wide and the marketing of fertilisers and chemicals for the production of food crops is a financial empire, it will take a lot of public awareness campaigns to change this long-held way of thinking in Jamaican lifestyles and farming.

With all these factors in mind I have long been telling friends in the country who farmed about the benefits of farming in a sustainable and organic way, without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Instead using water harvesting techniques, composting and crop rotation as a way to produce bumper crops, inhibit bugs and disease and even create energy. I feel it is the only feasible way forward in the future with the state of the Environment and we all should be pushing the idea to others if we have knowledge to share.

Often when I am researching I find that one discovery leads to another and I have found that there are many other concepts and techniques within these genres that are interesting and I feel they could play a part in the recovery of Jamaica. Sustainability, Recycling, Climate Change, Organic Farming and Environmental awareness is the theme and I will be going on a journey of discovery and invite you to come with me…

Jamaica’s Green Industries

First stop Jamaica! I am really pleased to find  a burgeoning ‘Green’ industry growing in Jamaica covering many genres. With this in mind in future posts I will be introducing some of the companies and people involved in these industries, alongside some of the creative ideas and concepts I have come across that could be used in Jamaica. Everything is with the aim of keeping Jamaica beautiful, whilst using its natural resources wisely, recycling, living and building sustainably and producing organic non-genetically modified (GM) food.

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Walk Good, Jules

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‘Recycle Now Jamaica’

Recycle Now Jamaica

‘Recycle Now Jamaica’

I was so happy to find about the ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’ project that was launched on the 12th February 2014, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. The team behind the recycling initiative aim to tackle the problem of the plastic bottles that are clogging up drains or being burnt in Jamaica. The organisation will be managed by a Board of Directors made up of the Government, through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) and private sector representatives. I really respect the fact that a lot of the big players in Jamaica are being responsible and are getting involved in this project, which will help to tackle the problem caused by how to manage their empty and discarded vessels. This group include, the Wisynco Group, Pepsi- Cola Jamaica, GraceKennedy Foods and Services, Jamaica Beverages, Lasco, Trade Winds Citrus, and Seprod.

The three year plan will see more than $300 million being invested in the project and is expected to create a minimum of 300 jobs for local Jamaicans. This investment means that for the next three years the Government is investing $50 million (per annum) and the private sector is investing $23.75 million (per annum) into the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle recycling project. This may seem a lot of money, but there is a growing demand for the sale of recycled PET bottles worldwide. What was once considered ‘waste’ and if often an eyesore across the island, can be utilised as a valuable commodity with economic benefits for Jamaica and help save the environment at the same time.

How Will the ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’ Project Work?

The Government investment will also extend to the construction of four satellite depots placed in strategic locations across the island which will facilitate the collection of the PET bottles.  A team of certified JEEP collectors will be paid on a weight basis (of the plastic bottles) to take the reclaimed PET waste to the depots.

These bottles will be transported to the Consolidation and Logistics Hub which will be paid for by the private investors involved in the project. The Hub will be include a baling line, storage facility for finished products as well as office space and will primarily be used to super compact and consolidate the recycled PET bottles.

What is the Aim of the ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’ Project?

The primary objective of Recycle Now Jamaica is to reclaim 35 per cent of PET bottles placed on the market over the first three years of operation. In the first year it is expected that 15% of the bottles will be processed, which will mean around 4 million bottles will be collected and processed between the four depots each day. To reach this aim there will be a national public awareness campaign to introduce Jamaicans to the idea of recycling and generate interest in the project. A special campaign intended for school children will be rolled out to get the message across the next generation, who will be benefitting from this responsible project in the future.

Why ‘Recycle Now Jamaica’?

Recycling is good for the environment. By taking care of the environment we can ensure that Jamaica remains beautiful and be-fitting of the moniker ‘The land of Wood and Water’ for generations to come. The development of the country and the increasing population creates greater demands on Jamaica’s natural resources and if not managed properly it will continue to damage the delicate eco-system.

By recycling waste that takes years to decompose in landfill, we can help to conserve energy, natural resources and raw materials in Jamaica. To simply throw valuable materials into the ground, or burn it in open heaps, is not only careless and wasteful it also helps to emit dangerous greenhouse gases, like Methane into the atmosphere. Plastic bottles block drains and gulley’s and cause flooding, are a threat to wildlife and cannot decompose at the bottom of the sea bed. It is significantly cheaper to process recycling then sending waste to landfill (the dump) and in most cases can generate an income as it is resold to be used in a secondary life.

Join in and do your bit. Because we All Love Jamaica.

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Walk Good, Jules

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