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Tom-Owens-Island2-4

Belize 2018 volunteer trip – Day 10 – Reduce, reuse, recycle

In previous blog posts I have talked about the different projects that ReefCI are working on, but during our time here it has become evident that there is a great deal to be said about the running of the island itself.

ReefCI want to lead by example by making their one and a half acre island as environmentally friendly, and as self sufficient as possible. It is a big task, with completion dates dependent upon time and money.

The drinking water here is purified water brought with us on the boat from Placencia at the beginning of the week, but the showers and sinks use rainwater. There are tanks around the island collecting the rainwater that runs off the guttering from the roofs. The showers use 3 litres per minute and there are up to 30 people on the island at one time so the water requirement adds up very quickly! To conserve the water they do have, volunteers are asked to shower only after their last dive of the day. When the rainwater runs out during the dry season, a trip must be made to Placencia to fill some tanks with fresh water which uses fuel and time during which the boat is unable to be used to dive from.

The toilets are flushed through with sea water which is pumped from the sea into large tanks at the back of the building. The toilets have been fitted with small cisterns, so each time one is flushed it uses 2.7 litres of water, far less than our average toilet back home. The waste water is collected in a septic tank and treated, before being taken back to the mainland to a water processing facility.

There is also no bin man who comes to the island, rubbish must be collected and taken to be processed on the mainland.

The island is off the grid, so ReefCI currently use a generator to provide electricity, but they plan to install solar panels in the near future, once they have the money to do so. They are also working towards becoming a completely plastic-free island!

Seeing the physical water tanks on the island and bags of rubbish waiting to be taken away really highlights the amount that we use, both on the island and everyday at home. Back in the UK all of these things are dealt with for us and out of our sight, which can make it more difficult for it to feel like a tangible thing that we can make a difference towards. But of course we can, every small action helps!

Reduce, reuse, refuse and recycle.

 

By Frances Singer

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