Charlotte McDevitt, Executive Director of Green V.I., talks with Rob about turning the British Virgin Island’s (BVI) waste streams into resources that benefit individual entrepreneurs and communities.
Green V.I. is a small not-for-profit organization working toward a greener, cleaner and healthier BVI. Their mission is to demonstrate the principles of sustainability along the themes of waste, energy, water and education. One of their most visible projects, Green VI’s Glass Studio at Cane Garden Bay aims to bring all these themes together to demonstrate how ‘waste’ can become a resource. Old bottles become beautiful art pieces, used vegetable oil is transformed into fuel and textile waste becomes packaging. This demonstration project has proved to be an effective tool to educate and raise awareness about a different way to manage ‘waste’ on the island – to use it instead as a resource. Green VI’s glass studio is moving to Virgin Gorda to a larger facility that has room for piloting an anaerobic digester – thereby converting seaweed, sewage and food waste into methane gas that will fuel the Glass Studio furnace.
Green VI has also been working on an island wide collaborative process of individuals, communities, businesses and government to address glass, plastics, aluminum, and used vegetable oil, organics, sewage, food waste, yard wastes, and Sargassum. In recent years in increasing amounts the seaweed has been washing up and piling up on beaches in putrid rotting mounds. The ultimate vision is to develop an Eco-Industrial Park on Virgin Gorda where 80% of ‘waste’ is diverted and used as a resource by entrepreneurs that will set up adjacent to one another. Entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs and local products will be created and sharing space and equipment will achieve greater efficiencies.
Charlotte describes Green V.I.’s educational and community outreach programs that include the CHAIR-ity event (featuring chairs made from discarded items), presentations and field trips. Their Trash-to-Treasure workshops invite children to consider the inherent value of their ‘trash’ – and how it can be used to create marketable items.
New legislation in the BVI now permits homeowners and business to install windmills and solar panels. Green VI has been an active advocate for many years to promote renewable energy and has recently been awarded funding to install the first grid tie at a Youth Empowerment Project.
In 2011 the Ocean River Institute partnered with Green V.I. At the time ORI brought in barristers from the UK to successfully quash the prime minister’s plans to build a five-star hotel and golf course on Beef Island salt ponds and to construct a mega-yacht marina destroying their fisheries protected area, the nursery grounds for about 60% of the commercially valuable fish.