No plastic. A small gesture in our hands

The Biosphere Reserve of the Island of Príncipe and UNESCO have launched an awareness and mobilization campaign entitled ‘No plastic. A small gesture in our hands’.

The campaign follows one of the resolutions of the International Meeting of the East Atlantic Biosphere Reserve Network, which took place on the Island of Principe in May 2013 and aims to reduce plastic waste and promote access to drinking water in the biosphere reserve.

The campaign intends to involve the whole population in collecting plastic bottles. Fifty plastic bottles can be exchanged for a ‘Principe Biosphere Bottle’, a reusable stainless steel bottle made from safe, plastic-free materials. These bottles can be replenished at various treated water points installed across the island of Principe.

People taking plastic bottles to exchange for a free stainless steel water bottle. © Príncipe Biosfera

The five-year goal is to declare the Island of Principe free of plastic. To this end, the Regional Assembly is working to develop legislation to tax plastic imports.

The ‘No plastic campaign’ targets children as future advocates for a healthy environment. For this reason the campaign will be promoted in towns and schools throughout the autonomous region of the island of Principe.

Distribution of 'Principe Biosphere Bottles’. © Príncipe Biosfera

On the first collection day of the campaign 24,000 used plastic bottles were collected and 400 ‘Principe Biosphere Bottles’ were distributed to the local population. By 2018, over 600,000 plastic bottles had been collected by the community, more than 7,000 reusable bottles had been distributed.

In parallel, 13 safe freshwater fountains were installed in public spaces around the island, including schools, markets, public administration buildings and the airport. Children take their Principe Biosphere Bottles to school and refill them there. Local managers were trained to maintain the fountains’ filtering system.

The campaign represents a partnership between the Regional Government of Principe through the Island of Príncipe Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme, the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, and the HBD group.

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