We are all facing the challenge of eliminating single-use plastic together: artists, educators, island dwellers, community activists, business owners/merchants, hospitality business operators, tourism promoters and event planners.
Join us for roundtable panels, global expert speakers, listening and dialogue sessions and field events. Free and open to the public!
DAY 1 | THURSDAY, JULY 27:
Opening session @ Westin Resort, Great Cruz Bay 9 a.m. – Noon
Snapshot | Current Plastic-Free Initiatives within the USVI/BVIs
Snapshot | Current Plastic-Free Initiatives & Programs Globally and Coastally
Roundtable | Current Challenges Preventing Plastic-Free Island Living
Afternoon Session @ Westin Resort | 1:30 – 4 p.m.
Recycling Challenges in an Island Setting
Allison Fraley, Solid Waste & Recycling Manager, Kauai, Hawaii
Making Your Big Event Plastic-Free
Plastic-Free Alternative Products for Restaurants, Retailers in the VI and Caribbean
CONCURRENT AFTERNOON LEARNING SESSIONS FOR YOUTH @ CINNAMON BAY
Thursday Evening Sessions:
6 p.m. | Informal Talk & Gathering @ St. John Brewing Tap Room (Mongoose Junction)
7:30-9 p.m. | Arts Community Gathering @ Bajo el Sol Gallery (Mongoose Junction)
DAY 2 | FRIDAY, JULY 28:
Morning session @ Westin Resort | 9 a.m. – Noon
Villa, Hotel and Resort Industry Challenges for Plastic-Free Living
CONCURRENT MORNING/MID-DAY EDUCATION SESSION @ CINNAMON BAY
Afternoon Session @ Coral Bay | 2 – 4 p.m.
Guy Benjamin Community Center (Coral Bay Community Council event)
Waste Management System Challenges in an Island Setting
Zero-Waste Plan for Coral Bay
Toward the Last Plastic Straw: How the Movement Began, Where it Stands, etc.
Friday Evening Sessions (Concurrent):
Movie Night at the Susannaberg Ruins: Screening of Straws! + Disney’s Oceans
Screening, Judging and Winners Named in “No Straw, Please” Video Competition
DAY 3 | SATURDAY, JULY 29:
Morning session | 10:30 – Noon @ Venue TBD
Plastic Recovery & Re-Use Technology & Strategies | Economic Development
Afternoon General Public Info Sessions @ Cinnamon Bay
(NOTE: All programming is flexible and subject to presenter/attendee availability + confirmed participation)
To register and attend a free session (or more), go to Eventbrite.
An incredible panel of environmental thought leaders will share their insights on sustainability, recycling and responsible waste management as part of Island Green Living Association’s (IGLA) Sustainability Think Tank on Tuesday, November 29 at 5 pm at the Westin St. John Resort and Spa’s Coral Room. The panel discussion will take place prior to IGLA’s board meeting. Both are open to the public and the community is encouraged to attend.
Successful implementation of the governor’s recycling bills including the plastic bag ban, source separation and container deposit legislation will depend greatly on the understanding and cooperation of residents. Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, Mark Lichtenstein, chief of staff and executive director of sustainability at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and the new executive director of Virgin Islands Waste Management, Roger Merritt, will be presenting. IGLA President Harith Wickrema will be moderating the panel. Wickrema was among the co-authors of the bills and Collins and Lichtenstein provided expert input on testimony.
“Sustainability is among the most important issues of our time and education is paramount to success,” said Wickrema. “These inspiring thought leaders bring a wealth of intellectual capital and passion and we are honored to have their participation.”
For more information on the event and IGLA in general, please contact email@example.com or 215-620-8809.
ST JOHN, USVI – November 17, 2016
Plastic-Free Island: St. John
Launches to Target Harmful Disposable Plastic
Working Group Formed; Support for Starfish Market Voiced
June 5, 2016 — A new collaborative project aimed at public awareness and targeting the elimination of immediate and long-term damage caused by disposable plastics is under way on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Plastic-Free Island: St. John is a new Innovation Project launched under the Plastic-Free Island concept founded by Pam Longobardi (Drifters Project) and Dianna Cohen (Plastic Pollution Coalition). Plastic-Free Island: St. John will work in close coordination with the leadership of the Island Green Living Association (IGLA) of St. John and other local organizations.
To begin immediately focusing on practical methods and new innovations to curb and prevent single-use plastic from harming the sensitive coastal environment and island community on St. John, a nine-person Working Group was created this month to tackle the challenge going forward.
Planning and executing definable, measurable and achievable actions to reduce and diminish harmful disposable plastic is the goal of the PFI: STJ Working Group. It was formed in the wake of an April 15-19 cross-island workshop that assessed the scope of the issue and local enthusiasm and support for addressing it.
While focused solely on the effect of single-use plastics on and around St. John, the effort is intended to complement current sustainability and environmental-protection initiatives already under way within the Territory. These include St. John-based programs led by IGLA as well as Friends of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, St. John Community Foundation, Coral Bay Community Council, Gifft Hill School and other community-minded organizations.
Among other dimensions, the Working Group plans to immediately champion and support existing and new efforts to curb the volume of single-use plastics currently in use by businesses, consumers, residents, visitors, the marine community and others on St. John.
The announcement in April by Starfish Market to ban plastic bags at its checkout counters is a shining example of a leading local business taking a clear, definable action that benefits the community. Helping local businesses and their customers adapt to and sustain this kind of change is a core component of the Working Group’s focus.
Along with an initial statement of purpose, a list of the new nine-member Working Group and their affiliations follows. Look for additional timely information from the Group and development of strategy and tactics in the coming weeks and months. Taking critical actions and heightening awareness of the Plastic-Free Island movement before, during and after the Centennial Transfer Day 2017 in the Territory are driving forces behind PFI: STJ. Click here to visit Plastic-Free Island: St. John’s website.
Plastic-Free Island: St. John Working Group [Alphabetical list + Affiliations]
- Dianna Cohen, Plastic Pollution Coalition; Plastic-Free Island
- Ken Haldin, Convener of PFI: St John; part-time STJ resident
- Celia Kalousek, St. John Community Foundation
- Erin Lieb, Get Trashed (coastal cleanup organization)
- Pam Longobardi, Georgia State University; Drifters Project; Plastic-Free Island
- Tonia Lovejoy, Get Trashed (coastal cleanup organization); Beautiful Nation Project
- Anne Ostrenko, Ostrenko Communications; part-time STJ resident
- Mary Vargo, Gifft Hill School
- Doug White, Island Green Living Assn. of St. John, USVI
Statement from the Plastic-Free Island: St. John Working Group:
“We are a group of local residents, visitors, educators, artists, conservationists, activists, National Park enthusiasts, lovers of St. John and local organization members who have determined that, together, we can help make single-use plastic decline and eventually disappear from St. John.
“Too much single-use plastic does irreparable harm to the USVI coastal environment and its economy. Doing something today to curb the use and flow of these unnecessary disposables tomorrow will help to build a healthier, more vibrant economy and island community, both before and after Transfer Day 2017.
“We are proud to be connected with and indebted to the Plastic-Free Island movement, which is creating an exportable template for protecting precious island locations from disposable plastic intrusion. We are also pleased to work in close coordination with the leadership of St. John’s Island Green Living Association and connect with other local organizations that share a desire to proactively protect the island community and its future health.
“Plastic-Free Island: St. John is meant to lift up and focus on new and innovative steps we can take — sometimes small, perhaps eventually dramatic — to make a difference in one essential dimension: reducing and eliminating single-use disposable plastic. We look forward to forging an array of definable, measurable and achievable actions and collaborating with others to make them happen on St. John.”
About Starfish Market’s Plastic Bag Ban:
“We wholeheartedly support Starfish Market’s manager Nedra Ephraim for making the bold ecoconscious decision to eliminate disposable plastic bags from the Market. Along with other businesses who have initiated positive change on St. John previously, this decision shows brilliant leadership to take a stance and act upon reducing the known damaging effects of disposable plastic bags in the environment and protection of the vibrant sea life of St. John. The transition to a bring your-own-bag routine may require a small change in behavior for customers and cause inconvenience in the short run. But a new, more sustainable habit will replace the plastic habit, and St. John will reap untold benefits in the future.”
VI SOURCE | BY DAVID KNIGHT JR. — MARCH 27, 2016 Source
With a new board in place since January, eco-nonprofit Island Green Living Association has introduced a strategic plan that emphasizes community outreach and youth education, IGLA’s new president Harith Wickrema said in an interview with the Source Thursday.
“The key word we’re trying to get out is ‘rethink’,” said Wickrema, who also sits on the board of the V.I. Waste Management Authority and is chief visionary officer at Eco Serendib Villa and Spa on St. John.
IGLA wants “rethink” to be the fourth R that completes the old sustainability mantra “recycle, reduce, reuse.” And there is a lot that needs to be re-thought, said Wickrema.
Obstacles towards ecological sustainability in the Virgin Islands include daunting problems such as overflowing landfills, toxic storm water runoff and a lack of viable recycling options.
One of IGLA’s central messages is, simply put, don’t be wasteful. Entrenched habits are among the biggest obstacles towards initiating what Wickrema calls a needed “culture change.”
“We need a huge amount of community education,” he said. “And there’s no better way to get the message to adults than through their children. It’s why I thought we should start with students, kindergarten through grade 12.”
When Wickrema was approached to sit on the VIWMA board in 2015 he asked Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp to help push for the introduction of sustainability-related curriculum into V.I. schools. IGLA’s long term goal, accordong to a recent press release from the organization, is to create the next generation of passionate “green living” ambassadors.
While the Department of Education decided it isn’t in the position to introduce any new mandated “green” curriculum just yet, Wickrema said IGLA has made a deal with Education to start small. In 2016 IGLA will help introduce a pilot program of ‘green living clubs’ into four schools in the St. Thomas-St. John district. Wickrema will fund the program.
The green living clubs will introduce students to gardening, composting, upcycling and other sustainable practices. Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, Jospeh Gomez Elementary School, Julius E. Sprauve School, and Gifft Hill School will be the first to implement the program.
In addition to bringing the issue sustainability directly to young people, IGLA aims to provide more opportunities for the community at large to learn about going green. The organization has recently begun to host an event called “Green Thursdays,” featuring guest speakers and movies on environmental topics.
The next Green Thursday event will be held at Gifft Hill School’s lower campus great room on April 14 at 6 pm. It will include a vegan potluck dinner and a screening of the documentary “Racing Extinction.”
Wickrema maintains that raising the collective level of urgency regarding sustainability is something the territory needs to work together on.
“We are not limited to St. John,” he said. “I personally believe we can be easily sustainable by growing most of our agriculture products between the three islands. Something St. Croix doesn’t have, maybe St. Thomas can help and vice-versa. We are one territory – we are not three different places.”
But Wickrema said St. John should lead the way in sustainability in the Virgin Islands due to the advantage of its small size. He said he wants the island to get down to “zero waste.”
In order to achieve “zero waste,” Wickrema explained, residents need to consider the things they bring to the dumpster as resources. With this approach, the issue of waste management actually turns into resource management. About 45 percent of items that go to the landfill on St. Thomas are compostable, he said. A good deal more are reusable in other ways.
Wickrema has lately been on the front lines of helping craft legislation that aim to make the territory less wasteful. Three new bills introduced by the governor bear his stamp, along with the stamps of Mapp’s chief legal counsel Emile Henderson and Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dawne Henry.
In one case Wickrema was successful in changing the word “biodegradable” to “compostable” in a bill regulating the kinds of bags businesses provide to customers.
“Biodegradable products could take 150 years to disintegrate. Compostable is a couple weeks. Biodegradable is not good enough.”
IGLA is already involved in hands-on recycling initiative. In 2015 the organization began an aluminum can crushing program at St. John’s Resource Depot, where 195,000 pounds of building materials have been repurposed to date. The organization hopes to introduce glass recycling soon. A new expanded Resource Depot that will include an upcycling program will also be announced in the near future.
In the meantime, IGLA still needs three or four volunteers every Saturday to help crush aluminum cans for recycling. Wickrema said all that residents need to do is contact IGLA through its website to sign-up to volunteer.
IGLA needs residents to adopt green living practices, he said, not because they are being forced to but because they want to.
“All these ideas are great, but we need the whole community to be involved,” said Wickrema. “IGLA is one small group of dedicated people. Most have fulltime jobs. We don’t have a paid executive running the operation. It’s all volunteers. We want each person to feel a sense of pride that they are taking care of their home, their own backyard.”
New members brought on to the IGLA board this year include; Akhil Deshwal, managing director at Gallows Point Resort and president of Ocean 362; Laurie Bottiger, head of school at Gifft Hills School; Jim Dobrowolski, founder and CEO of U.S. Facilities Inc. and owner of Dr. Cool; University of the Virgin Islands president David Hall; Karen Vahling, director of development for Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park; Susan Parten, owner of Community Environmental Services, Inc.; and Randy Thurman, past CEO of major global corporations including VIASYS and Corning Life Sciences.
Remaining on the board are architects Doug White and Rob Crane, restoration ecologist Gary Ray, and Christie O’Neil, broker at Holiday Homes of St. John.
More information about the Island Green Living Association can be found at https://islandgreenliving.org/. 
Armed with a new board that includes top brass from the corporate world and academia, Island Green Living Association (IGLA) has conceived a comprehensive strategic plan that combats the significant environmental issues endangering the U.S. Virgin Islands. Key among the tactics are education and engagement initiatives, which include a hands-on Island Green Living/Sustainability curriculum in partnership with the V.I. Department of Education. Fundamental to IGLA’s mission are the four R’s: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
“The U.S.V.I. faces major environmental challenges including the impending closure of overflowing landfills in 2020, toxic storm water run-off, high energy costs and lack of viable recycling options,” said Harith Wickrema, the new president of IGLA. “The way we live plays a major role in the devastation, but most people don’t understand their impact. It is our belief that with awareness, education and community engagement along with the support of government, we can fight this battle together. Preservation of the territory is vital to our health and wellbeing as well as to tourism, the lifeblood of our economy.”
In addition to assuming the role of vice chairman of the VI Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), Wickrema was elected the new president of IGLA in January. He has been dedicated to preservation and green issues his entire career, most notably developing the sustainable event management curriculum at Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is a trailblazer in the event management industry, championing recognition of sustainability and green events while president of Harith Productions Ltd., a 25+ year global corporate communication and event production company.
While traveling for business, he fell in love with St. John and conceived Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, an eco-luxury retreat on St. John where he now makes his home. For each night that the villa is rented, a donation is made to Friends of VI National Park and IGLA for restoration and recycling efforts on St. John.
Other board officers include:
Doug White, vice president — White is a licensed architect in the Virgin Islands since 1982 as well as a co-founder and past president of IGLA.
Rob Crane, treasurer — Crane is a licensed architect in Washington D.C., Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands, and he is past president of IGLA.
Akhil Deshwal, secretary — Deshwal is managing director at Gallows Point Resort and president of Ocean 362, the restaurant at Gallows Point.
Dr. Laurie Bottiger, head of school, Gifft Hills School, St. John
Jim Dobrowolski, founder and CEO of U.S. Facilities Inc., owner of Dr. Cool, a leading mechanical services provider in the U.S.V.I.
Dr. David Hall, president, University of Virgin Islands
Christie O’Neil, broker, Holiday Homes of St. John Inc.
Dr. Gary Ray, restoration ecologist and co-founding member of IGLA
Susan Parten, licensed civil engineer and owner/manager of Community Environmental Services Inc.
Randy Thurman, past CEO of major global corporations including VIASYS & Corning Life Sciences, Rhone Poulenc Rorer, etc.
Karen Vahling, director of development, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park
Further details on IGLA’s plans are forthcoming.
**IGLA’s Green Movie Series offers free family-friendly movie nights when films on green issues are featured, and there is a pot luck dinner. They movie nights are open to the public and will take place at 6 p.m. in the Great Room of Lower Gifft Hill School Campus on the following evenings:
March 17: “Cowspiracy”
April 14: “Racing Extinction”
May 12: “Forks Over Knives”
The Island Green Living Association is proud to announce the launch of a major fundraising campaign in support of its mission to address environmental issues island-wide.
Together with the board of directors, Executive Director Barry Devine, IGLA intends to undertake key initiatives that will more aggressively target issues of recycling, resource conservation, responsible building and living, and preservation of St. John’s natural environment.
Collectively, the island’s residents, businesses, and more than 1 million visitors per year are utilizing St. John’s natural resources at a rate that poses a growing threat of degradation to the island. St. John faces unique economic, cultural, and environmental problems associated with its geography and tourism base; namely, tons of waste with little recycling, high energy and food costs, increasing pollution, decreasing land mass, and endangered wildlife. These are all key issues targeted in IGLA’s fundraising campaign, Preserve St. John.
As a non-profit organization, IGLA’s funding comes from members and generous donors. To date, public support has enabled IGLA to help St. John in many ways, and now more than ever, the non-profit needs financial support to reach higher and fund critical initiatives including island resource recovery, glass and aluminum can recycling, composting, green villa and green business membership programs, and green living education.
Contact Barry Devine today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 340-514-3532 to be a part of Preserve St. John, and share IGLA’s mission with friends, family, neighbors, and visitors. With help from the public, IGLA can enable St. John to move toward a sustainable future and preserve the island for the continued enjoyment of all.
On an island with limited space for waste and few recycling options, the Island Green Building Association is working toward bringing glass recycling to St. John with the help of donations from the community.
IGBA hopes to purchase a solar-powered glass pulverizer to operate at its ReSource Depot site, across from the Susannaberg Transfer Station at Gifft Hill and Centerline. The glass crusher will pulverize glass waste down to the size of a grain of sand, making it ideal for reuse in water filters, landscaping, concrete, and asphalt. IGBA plans to sell 50-pound bags of the pulverized glass at the ReSource Depot.
“You get a sellable product right out of the machine,” said IGBA board member Doug White. “We estimate it can process between 45 and 90 percent of St. John’s glass.”
The island’s waste is approximately 5 percent glass, accounting for 680 tons annually.
“The glass crusher would take care of a phenomenal amount of glass that gets thrown away every year,” said IGBA volunteer Kristin Hawk.
The resulting pulverized glass would be competitively priced with bags of sand sold on St. Thomas.
With St. Thomas landfills ordered closed by 2019 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the territory will need to look at creative ways to dispose of its waste, White explained.
“Glass is a reusable resource,” he said. “It’s already on the island, so transportation and shipping are not necessary, and the material is virtually free except for the collection efforts. We can reuse it right here on St. John.”
IGBA plans to collect the glass alongside aluminum can collection points that stand at many island trash bins.
In addition to reducing the amount of waste produced by island residents and visitors, the solar powered glass crusher will also benefit the island by helping to free up St. John Capital Improvement Fund money, explained White.
“Right now, shipment of our waste to St. Thomas is paid for by the St. John Capital Improvement Fund,” he said. “That money should be going toward doing projects on St. John, not being used to haul trash. The more waste we can process on St. John, the more we can free up the fund for needed improvements on St. John.”
The entire cost of the project is estimated at $76,528, and donations from the community will be needed to help the non-profit purchase the glass crusher and get it up and running. Donations are being accepted at razoo.com/story/Island-Green-Building-Association. IGBA hopes to have the glass crusher up and running within approximately one year.
“The glass crusher will be a benefit to the people who live and visit here and a benefit to the island’s environment,” said Hawk.
IGBA is partnering with NOAA and DPNR to conduct technical training workshops and develop public service announcements targeting designers, builders, agencies, and homeowners with the green building message. First training is for designers, builders and contractors and is focused on building design, landscaping, and stormwater management. July 16, St. Ursulas Church, Cruz Bay. Registration required.
The development of a comprehensive recycling program on St. John has never fully come to fruition, despite interest from many island residents. Join the Island Green Building Association and Gifft Hill School’s Education and Resiliency Through Horticulture program on Thursday, May 30, at the GHS Upper Campus atrium to see how community members can help bring recycling to St. John.
A presentation entitled “Recycle What, Where?” will feature a panel of community activists discussing which recycling activities are ongoing – aluminum can recycling and composting – and which efforts are gathering steam – plastic bailing, glass crushing, and others. Panelists will also discuss the best path moving forward, and share with community members how they can be a part of the solution.
A potluck, beginning at 5:30 p.m., will precede the panel discussion, which starts at 6 p.m. Please bring a dish to share if you wish to join the potluck.
This presentation is a Green Thursdays Seminar, part of the Island Sustainability Series presented by IGBA and GHS’s EARTH program. These monthly seminars focus on making the Virgin Islands a greener place to live. All are welcome to attend.