The Green Movement on the island has gained a lot of ground over the last year, particularly as issues such as climate change and plastic pollution have become more pressing than ever.
Although we clearly have a long way to go to reduce the Isle of Man’s environmental impact, as 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to celebrate the fantastic steps taken by local individuals, businesses and organisations during the year to protect our environment.
Starting 2018 off strong, Rock Food Concepts’ Strawless Man initiative started a movement in the hospitality industry on the island to reduce the use of single-use plastics, starting with plastic straws.
Their post launching the idea went Manx Viral in January and triggered a host of other local businesses to follow suit.
Beach Buddies goes global
Step aside David Attenborough, local legend Bill Dale has made serious headway this year with his organisation, Beach Buddies, which rallies thousands of volunteers for beach clean-ups around the island to remove plastic from our shores.
Aside from this amazing local achievement, Beach Buddies has also been making waves globally. The organisation was recently featured in a fantastic article in the Guardian highlighting the Manx community’s commitment to protecting our environment.
Beach Buddies is also involved in setting up a global alliance of small island nations dedicated to mobilising communities to take action to reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans.
Here are some incredible stats on the Beach Buddies over the last year (May 2017 – May 2018) to really hammer home on their AMAZING work!
• TOTAL BEACH CLEANS: 412
• AMOUNT OF RUBBISH COLLECTED – 223 tonnes (2.2 million items)
• BE PROUD OF YOUR SCHOOL – Project launched January 2018. Schools involved for far are Anagh Coar, Manor Park, Jurby, Andreas, Ashley Hill, Rushen Primary, St John’s, Marown, Henry Bloom Noble, QE2, Sulby, Ballasalla, Laxey).
Rowan Henthorn’s exxpedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Last summer, local lass Rowan Henthorn set sail from Hawaii to Vancouver, crossing what has become known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ to trawl the sea for plastic and pollutants and collect data for scientific research. Rowan’s project has highlighted how the sea’s currents can move debris, including raw sewage and radioactive waste, thousands of miles away from where it was initially dumped into the ocean – a sobering realisation for an island in the middle of the sea!
Her contribution to scientific research is particularly empowering for Manx women and girls who want to get involved with environmental projects. The voyage was all-female – a unique achievement given that women make up just 13% of the workforce in the science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) sectors.
The relaunch of the IoM Green Party
In March this year, the Isle of Man Green Party relaunched under the leadership of Andrew Newton. Focused on sustainability and developing the island in alignment with our UNESCO biosphere status, the newly relaunched Green Party aims to be a much-needed agitator for change in Manx politics.
In August, the party successfully elected Green candidate Andrew Bentley as Douglas Councillor. Bentley, who was one of four candidates, received a solid 42% of the vote and will hold the position for two years. We’ve got our eyes on these guys to put forward some progressive candidates to shake things up in the 2020 parliamentary elections.
Manx Labour Party puts green issues on the political map
IoM Creamery launches grass fed accreditation and plant-based packaging
This year the IoM Creamery raced ahead of its counterparts in the UK, working with DEFA to launch the Isle of Man Grass Fed Accreditation, which requires cows to have a minimum of 70% grass in their diet and a minimum of 200 days access to pasture. This means happy and healthy cows and better quality milk!
They also went even greener this year with their packaging, introducing the first plant-based carton in the British Isles back in September, which uses no oil-based plastic. According to Managing Director, Findlay Macleod, the production of the carton is carbon negative and actually removes carbon from the environment during creation, making it the most environmentally friendly packaging on the shelves!
Local environmental groups launch the Climate Change Coalition
In November this year, two things happened that got local environmental groups, political parties, and green-minded Manx people very worried:
1) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a concerning report that stated we have just 12 years to transform our economies in order to limit the drastic impacts of climate change on our societies and our planet;
2) In the same week, it was announced that the IoM Government granted a license to a local energy company to explore the seabed of Maughold for fossil fuels.
In response, local organisations and individuals joined forces to launch the Climate Change Coalition (CCC), which seeks to lobby government to reduce our carbon emissions, invest in renewable energy, and #ProtectOurBiosphere.
The CCC has received support from the public, businesses, charities, and members of government and packed out the Manx Legion with over 150 people for its launch event. Its members plan to work alongside government to ensure that policy is being implemented to take care of our environment and reduce our negative impact on the planet.
Laxey lead the way
Laxey primary school staff and children have introduced an impressive range of green initiatives as they aim to reduce single-use plastic. Their work has not only transformed the school, but also the wider Laxey community.
Laxey School Teacher, Rebbecca Walker, told us more;
As a school, we have already made massive changes in the dining hall, by eradicating plastic cutlery, cups, and plates. Children and parents are also starting to make smarter choices with their packed lunches.
We have developed a network of local shops who will refill drink bottles when asked (the children have designed stickers that the Garff Commissioners are professionally printing to go into windows to advertise this). This will be starting before Christmas.
The children are also raising environmental awareness through working with the community (including Dawn Dickens and Bill Dale), artists (Jannoo) to design and create a school mural, The Laxey Glen (who are developing a history trail) and the Garff Commissioners. The children even came up with their own #lookafterlaxey and #laxeyschoolcares hashtags to celebrate their hard work on social media.
To top things off the children led the Islands first WHOLE school beach clean up with Beach Buddies where they raised £500 for a Beach Buddy bin for Laxey prom.
These awesome stories should fill us with hope.
It feels like every day there’s a new story about how human activity is damaging the planet, and the stakes have never seemed higher. But if more of us follow in the footsteps of these cool (Manx) cats, we truly believe the island can set a small but mighty example of environmental sustainability and social responsibility for other nations around the world to follow.
Bring on 2019! ✊🏼🌍🇮🇲💚
Gef’s Big Fat Review is in collaboration with Manx Radio.