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Cayman Parent | Articles | Community | Q&A: Claire Hughes, Plastic Free Cayman

Q&A: Claire Hughes, Plastic Free Cayman

Keep cayman plastic free




Founded by Claire Hughes, a PE teacher at Cayman Prep, Plastic Free Cayman is a non-profit organisation. It is run by volunteers who are focused on raising awareness of the ‘plastic problem’, campaigning to reduce single-use plastics and organising regular community beach clean-ups. Visit for more information.



Q: Why did you start the Plastic Free Cayman initiative?

A: After watching ‘A Plastic Ocean’ on Netflix I wanted to do something to help. I never knew that plastic leaches chemicals into food and water and that so little is recycled. I had also begun to notice more plastic washing up on our beaches over the years and appearing on the roadsides. As a teacher and parent I wanted to share what I had learned.

Q: What changes would you like to see at both a government and grass roots level in a year’s time?

A: First a plastic bag ban. We submitted a proposal to the government back in 2018. Some businesses have voluntarily made the switch, but a change in legislation will be the only way to completely phase them out. Then a ban on plastic straws, plastic cutlery and polystyrene, all of which are single-use items and are easily replaced with compostable materials.

Other countries have adopted a bottle return scheme with success. Basically you pay a deposit when you buy a plastic bottle and get it back on return. At a grass roots level we would like all school children to watch ‘A Plastic Ocean’ and then form an ‘Eco-Team’! From there, we have plans for them to ‘Adopt a Beach’ and work together to find solutions and make changes. Empowering our youth is very important.

Q: How are the clean-ups benefiting the Cayman Islands?

A: We host monthly clean-ups which means less plastic in our waters and around the Island. It brings the community out for a common purpose – keeping Cayman beautiful. Recently student activists from Protect Our Future led a community clean-up event at Safe Haven. They collected more than 900lbs of rubbish which was a mixture of marine debris and local trash. Plastic Free Cayman hopes that the new government seriously consider a ban on specific plastic items, a stricter enforcement of Cayman’s anti-litter law, and instituting a serious recycling and composting plan of action. If done properly, each of these initiatives could create local jobs for the community while improving Cayman’s environment.

Beach Clean-up Dates 2021: Clean-ups take place on the first weekend of every month. Please visit Plastic Free Cayman’s Facebook page for information on the next one.

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