30 Nov 2020 - Kristal Ambrose had to beat prejudices about class and race to change mindsets on the islands
When the latest Goldman prize winner, Kristal Ambrose, began campaigning against plastic waste in the Bahamas, one of the first obstacles she had to overcome was prejudice about class and race.
“You have been around white people too long. We always use plastic bags,” she recalls being told by neighbours in Eleuthera, one of the 30 islands in the ocean state. “I had to challenge the mindset that only a certain class of people get to care about this stuff. I told them it is not just for tourists. It’s my island and I want to protect it.”
Still bigger challenges followed as Ambrose lobbied local politicians to ban single-use plastic and launched an education campaign to inform people about global overconsumption, particularly in rich nations, that contributed to the steady accumulation of rubbish on formerly pristine beaches, coral reefs and stretches of sea in the Caribbean.
“In the Bahamas, it’s a really big deal because we receive the world’s waste as well as producing our own,” she said. “This is paradise, until you look closely. Then you see the plastic pollution that washes in with the Sargasso Sea.”