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Martin Howell


They treat plastic like banana peels

Martin Howell

With a recent influx in plastics over the last decade, local African communities, such as Lamu, have struggled to deal with this new non-biodegradable material. Lacking the proper education and information surrounding plastics, locals continue to treat it like the biodegradable materials they have been using for centuries. They treat plastics like they do banana peels and coconut shells, and they simply throw them on the ground or in the ocean, expecting them to decompose. While those plastics went unnoticed for several years they are now presenting a serious threat to the local ecosystem as they have started to accumulate. In order to combat this, I organized a marine conservation workshop with local schools in a town called Wiyoni. The goal was to highlight to plastics issue and instruct the next generation in this community on how to deal with it. The workshop consisted of an educational component and a hands-on component. We completed a 2 hour educational session together with Lamu Marine Conservation Society, and instructed 60 children in the classroom on the danger that plastics pose to their immediate environment. I followed up the classroom session with hands-on experience, by organizing ocean cleanups, to teach the children about the plastics issue in the field. The photography and cleanup equipment were sponsored by my company, SOL Connect, which aims to connect people globally around the world’s most pressing issues. Over the course of the two ocean cleanups that I organized, we had over 120 children and community members participate and removed close to 1 ton of trash and plastic from the ocean. I am planning on securing funding for this program in 2019 to continue the educational and hands-on program in 2019 on a bigger scale. My goal is to make Lamu and Wiyoni plastic free by 2023 and use the community as a benchmark for how we can untangle plastic products from a community, and one by one find natural substitutes.

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