Whether you own or are renting a home, making environmentally-friendly choices will help preserve our beautiful Island and help you to have a far more sustainable, eco-friendly living space.
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There are lots of little things that can be done at home to help you and your family live more greenly. From recycling and reusing where possible, to installing greener household appliances - there's lots of ways to protect Cayman's future from home.
Reduce, Reuse & Refuse
The George Town Landfill on Grand Cayman, known to some residents as 'Mount Trashmore', has started to undergo restoration and remediation as of 2022. However, it is essential that we all strive to reduce, reuse, refuse.
- All major supermarkets on the Island now sell reusable woven shopping bags and charge 5¢ per plastic bag. Yet, they still provide plastic produce bags in the fruit and vegetable aisles and these end up in the landfill by the thousands.
- Refuse Styrofoam as it cannot be recycled and is one of the biggest culprits of ocean pollution.
- Say no to single-use plastics, such as shopping bags, plastic produce bags, plastic straws, utensils and even disposable coffee cups. Buy mesh produce bags for fruit and vegetable purchases, reusable coffee cups and glass or stainless steel straws. Reusable straws are available at Bon Vivant, Foster’s and Kirk Home Centre.
Reducing the amount of waste we personally generate ultimately reduces the amount of waste we send to the landfill.
Recycling benefits the environment in a number of different ways, including reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and conserving natural resources such as water, timber and minerals.
There are currently eight recycling depots
across Grand Cayman; four of which are located at the Island’s major
supermarkets. In 2021, Grand Harbour closed its recycling depot, however the DEH has opened a depot at the BarCam Service Station in Red Bay to serve the residents of the Prospect area. After recyclables are placed in the multi-coloured bins at any of the eight depots across the Island, it is then taken to the DEH recycling centre at the George Town landfill. Once the recycling has been separated and baled, it goes on a transatlantic trek to its final destination in Florida, where it is distributed to various waste processing facilities.
Remember to wash items before depositing as contents can contaminate the entire recycling bin. Labels and caps must be removed from bottles as these often cannot be recycled. It is essential that no additional waste items are placed in recycling bins as they contaminate the recyclables and could cause the entire bin to be landfilled.
Residents can recycle the following items at each of these locations:
- paper and cardboard
- clean metal food cans (steel and aluminium)
- glass bottles and glass containers
- PET/PETE and HDPE plastics (numbers 1 and 2). Be sure to check the bottom of containers for codes such as PET, PETE and HDPE or the 1 and 2 symbols.
Read the signs at each depot and follow the instructions carefully. Remember to separate your waste at source. Make sure everything has been rinsed out and is clean, and don’t put plastic wrappers, plastic bags or cling wrap in with the numbers 1 and 2 plastics. Recyclables in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are safely stored at their respective landfills until arrangements are made for shipping to Grand Cayman for further processing.
You can also get JUNK to help make your recycling easier.From as little as CI$50 per month, JUNK collects recyclables (aluminium, cardboard, glass, and plastic types 1 and 2) every week from your home or office. Your recyclables are responsibly prepared for export to their waste management partners, thus diverting them from the George Town landfill. Contact JUNK on Sales (345) 925 4374 or (345) 325 5865, email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have old electronic equipment, such as computers, keyboards, and cables, E-Waste Cayman Islands Ltd. (Tel: (345) 916 6467) will collect them and recycle them. Fees for collecting electronic waste range from CI$45 to CI$300, depending on the nature and volume of the material. Visit E-Wate's website for a full list of fees.
Disposing of Batteries
Please do your part in keeping Cayman's environment green and free from toxic material. Everyone should aim to use rechargeable batteries. Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel, which can contaminate the environment if not properly disposed of.
Cayman’s Department of Environmental Health (DEH) introduced small blue collection containers where used batteries can be dropped off (visit the Recycling Locations for more information). The batteries are then shipped off to a recycling facility overseas.
You can place your used household batteries (e.g. from computer, camera, flashlight, toys, and cell phone) in any of the collection bins located at all supermarkets, including Foster's, Cost-U-Less and some public businesses and condos.
Please do not put any batteries in the regular garbage bins!
The most environmentally friendly fuel source available in the Cayman Islands is propane. Home Gas (all three Islands) and Clean Gas (Grand Cayman only) are the two available providers. Both offer installation, service and delivery, whether residential or commercial, and they work with their customers throughout the whole process of designing, installing and maintaining a propane system. Both companies can also offer propane and product guidance for all indoor and outside appliances.
As well as being kinder to the environment, propane-fuelled appliances are far more economical to run than electric ones. Both companies can also offer propane to power outdoor appliances such as tiki torches, water heaters and grills.
Green Cleaning Products
Environmentally friendly cleaning products are becoming more common in Cayman’s stores. These green products clean just as well as their harsh chemical-laden counterparts but are made entirely from natural ingredients which are non-toxic, free of phosphates, fillers, fragrance, chlorine, dyes and NPE. They are not tested on animals, nor do they contain animal additives. Another benefit of these green products is that they are far better for the septic tank systems that most homes in Cayman use. Foster’s and Kirk Market lead the market in supplying safe cleaning products. EcoCay, an online-only store, also sells sustainable, plastic-free and non-toxic cleaning products as well as other everyday essentials.
When you need dry cleaning done on Grand Cayman, Island Cleaners (Tel: (345) 949 5391) and Puritan Cleaners (Tel: (345) 949 7104) are both eco-friendly companies that use environmentally safe dry cleaning products, recycle hangers and offer a same day service, if needed. Fluff ‘N’ Fold (Tel: (345) 943 5833) in Camana Bay also uses energy-efficient equipment, non-toxic chemicals and recycling programmes to reduce their impact on the environment.
Top Tips for Being Green
Small choices can make a difference so here are some ways you can reduce your impact on Cayman's fragile environment:
- Buy reusable bags to take with you to the grocery store
- Buy food and cleaning items in bulk
- Buy glass food containers and reuse them
- Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products
- Take reusable containers when you get takeaway food
- Use reusable cups/glass jars for your daily coffee or smoothie
- Avoid disposable cutlery
- Choose eco-friendly cleaning products
- Avoid toiletries that contain microbeads
- Swap to non-plastic alternatives e.g. a bamboo toothbrush or a moon cup
- Avoid products containing palm oil
- Reduce your meat and dairy intake and try 'Meat-free Mondays'
- Drink Flowers Bottled Water or tap water, which is perfectly safe, and use refillable bottles; consider installing a ‘City Water Filter’ from www.ionfaucet.com to remove the chlorine from tap water
- Be mindful of water usage and install a ‘low flow’ shower head to save water
- Use a drying rack or clothesline to dry clothes rather than a dryer
- Only use the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load
- Set the A/C thermostat at the highest temperature you feel comfortable with
- Conserve energy by turning off lights, fans and electronic equipment when not in use
- Use rechargeable batteries
- Recycle newspapers and towels by taking them to the Humane Society and donate magazines to the hospital
- Recycle old printers and laptops by donating them to schools or charities
- Return clothes hangers to dry cleaners
- Take second-hand clothes to the Humane Society, One Dog At A Time or the Red Cross
- Share rides, use public transportation, walk or cycle when possible
- Compost where possible.
You can also join Plastic Free Cayman and take their 345 Pledge for Individuals which provides a guideline and suggests easy switches you can make to help you reduce plastic waste. Find them on Facebook or visit their website: www.plasticfreecayman.com.
Being a Green Family
In order for your kids to value the importance of recycling, you must lead by example. The more fired-up you are about recycling, the more interested they will likely be in participating. Kids should see recycling as an exciting way to help protect the Earth, not to mention all the incredible creatures that call Cayman home!
If you plan to make recycling a regular chore for your kids, incentivise it by rewarding them with fun activities like trips to the beach or park. Take some time when you visit the beach to pick up some trash and help keep Cayman looking beautiful.
Check out this article on Raising Environmentally Conscious Children in Cayman for more helpful tips.