Sunday 22 April was Earth Day and it was marked with a series of events in the Territory throughout the previous week, including a coastal clean-up, which was organised by the Conservation and Fisheries Department and a first anniversary party held by Green VI at Cane Garden Bay.
On Thursday 19 April all the staff from the Governor’s Office and Government House joined me to help out with the annual Coastal Clean Up exercise. We donned blue plastic gloves and made our way from Maria’s By The Sea, all the way down Waterfront Drive to the Queen Elizabeth Park, scouring the rocks for rubbish. We were amazed and horrified as we filled bag after bag with bottles, styrofoam, cans, shoes and all sorts of other items that would damage the environment if they weren’t removed. None of the items were biodegradable meaning they would lie in the water for years posing a threat to marine life – and the marine environment is key to BVI’s future. My staff and I spent that one afternoon collecting rubbish, but it has reinforced the message that working to protect the environment is not something to be done once a year but must become part of the way we live our lives every day.
From rubbish collection to celebration – I was delighted to congratulate Green VI on their first anniversary this weekend. Waste management is a critical issue in the BVI and glass waste poses a significant problem as it melts onto the incinerator walls, so Green VI’s work is invaluable. The day was celebrated with a ‘family day’ at Cane Garden Bay. There were glass blowing demonstrations, beach games, a treasure hunt and the unveiling of their new billboard. Specially produced green glass frogs (Green VI’s logo) were presented to their main sponsors and the Governor’s Office was delighted to receive one – it now has pride of place in the window of our offices. Green VI unveiled exciting plans for the pilot of a recycling project for aluminium cans in Sea Cow’s Bay, so we will follow the progress of that with interest.
In keeping with the spirit of Earth Day, I wanted to highlight some of the green initiatives for this summer’s Olympic Games in London:
1. The area that will host the Olympic Park in East London used to be a rundown, polluted, neglected part of the city. The Olympic facilities are transforming the area. Hundreds of acres in East London have been turned into urban parks. More than 500,000 plants and thousands of animals have been added to wetland reserves in the shadow of Olympic Park.
2. Olympic Stadium, the centrepiece of the Olympic development projects, has been designed to be the lightest stadium of its size ever built. It will seat 80,000 spectators, but fewer than 10,000 tonnes of steel have gone into its construction.
3. The venues in Olympic Park will use at least 40 per cent less water than other similar buildings. By using techniques like rainwater collection for irrigation and flushing toilets, the buildings will minimise the amount they draw on water resources.
4. More than 95 per cent of the material from demolition of existing structures in the Olympic Park area has been reclaimed for use in construction. And materials being brought in have been shipped on trains and barges, reducing the carbon emissions when compared to shipping by truck.
5. Arguably the biggest—but certainly the longest term—sustainability effort for the Olympics is the plans for use of the venues after the Games. Instead of being one-time use structures, standing vacant after the Games conclude, businesses will find shop space in Olympic Park; the athletes’ residences will be converted into affordable housing and apartments; and local sport organisations will be given access to the sporting venues for community use.