Blessed with sun-soaked beaches, crystal-clear waters, a lush ecosystem and an ideal climate, the Cayman Islands is paradise found for both visitors and locals alike. Yet a variety of environmental threats leave the beauty of the island increasingly vulnerable to degradation and employee groups at Dart and Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa have decided to do something to preserve the environment.
For Dart, sustainability is intrinsic to the company’s development approach and business practices. As an early advocate for recycling on Grand Cayman and one of the largest producers of solar energy on island, going green isn’t just smart business, it’s essential for a viable and sustainable future.
In the workplace, the Dart Green Team aims to educate, promote and raise awareness of environmentally sustainable practices in the work environment and in the wider community. Bound by a charter, the team plans initiatives around waste reduction, sustainable transportation, water usage and energy consumption.
Camana Bay Times Editor Alan Markoff is the chairperson of Dart’s Green Team. Markoff says it is important for him to be a part of a greater push towards green practices and is keen to help foster further environmental awareness in the Dart workplace.
“For the past 10 years, I have been the leader of Grand Cayman’s chapter of Slow Food, the international culinary organisation that promotes, as one of its key initiatives, sustainability in the production and distribution of food ingredients,” he says. “Taking over the leadership of Dart’s Green Team allows me to promote important green practices beyond food and seemed like a logical progression from my association with Slow Food.”
Recent initiatives of Dart’s Green Team include a Sept. 15 beach clean-up on International Coastal Cleanup Day, an “Unplug It!” campaign to encourage energy conservation and a challenge to eat less meat for the month of September in order to raise awareness of the threat of industrialised animal agriculture.
Markoff says he has been surprised at employees’ interest in the Green Team and the scope of initiatives its members want to pursue.
“We’ve had more than 20 staff members join the Green Team,” he says. “At our first meeting, I asked members for project or initiative ideas. The ideas went far beyond doing green things like employee beach clean-ups, and even beyond the Dart organisation itself. Our aim is to promote a green way of thinking, to help bring about a shift in green consciousness. For example, next year we’re planning to organise an island-wide anti-littering campaign that will hopefully get people to stop and think before they leave litter on our beautiful island.”
At Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Ave and Avecita Restaurant bartender Steven Fanning is a passionate member of the Seafire Guardians team. The Guardians work to help keep the island waters clean and to reduce the carbon footprint of the large hotel.
Witnessing first-hand the impact that pollution, bad solid waste management and climate change have on the environment drove Fanning to take action.
“With a focus on our waters, reefs and beaches, we are hoping to bring awareness to colleagues, guests and the larger community of the environmental issues that we face here in Cayman,” says Fanning.
Formed in June, the Guardians consist of eight core members who came together after actively being involved in their own environmental awareness initiatives.
“The team came together naturally, with like-minded people who want to give back to the island and to the environment. Each member brings his or her own unique strengths and passions,” says Fanning.
Other volunteers include Kimpton colleagues, friends and residents from the community. Even hotel guests are keen to help out. “We are also noticing an increase in guest participation, which is very encouraging,” says Fanning.
Collaborating with the Cayman Turtle Centre, the team recently volunteered to help the Department of Environment find, monitor and protect turtle nests on beaches as part of the Marine Turtle Beach Monitoring programme. The team reported many fresh turtle tracks, and even a few new nests.
“Last week we were privileged to take part in watching the turtle nurseries spawn under the moonlight and in collaboration with the Cayman Turtle Centre, 100 baby turtles were released onto the beach,” says Fanning.
Several of Dart’s staff, including Green Team members, also take part in the Marine Turtle Beach Monitoring programme.
The Guardians efforts extend underwater, too. The team works with Cayman Eco Divers on their coral restoration projects. “Many of our Guardians are avid divers and we often help the Eco Divers maintain and transplant coral onto reefs,” says Fanning. “We are blessed with some of the most pristine waters in the world, with a unique and fragile ecosystem. If we don’t take care of our environment, and physically change our habits, devastating results will surely ensue.”