Contest winner cleans up with essay on anti-litter campaign

The winner of the 13th annual Conde Nast Traveler Essay Contest, which drew 1,000 entries from 23 Caribbean nations, was announced at the recent Caribbean Tourism Conference in St. Thomas.


Shandida Greida Gibbs, a 10-year-old student from St. Eustatius, won a $2,000 scholarship for her essay on the theme: If you were given the responsibility of preserving your islands environment and maintaining its beauty, how would you do that, and how would you involve your whole community, from children to adults?


Runners-up Nordisia Lake of Anguilla and Tamika Jude of Dominica won $500 scholarships. The winning essay follows: 

Preserving the environment and maintaining the beauty of ones island calls for hard work and dedication. It is a never-ending task. It is a responsibility handed down from generation to generation.

As it stands, it is already the responsibility of my generation, and I am happy that I am challenged to think more in-depth about what I would do if given this huge responsibility.

The existence of mankind is threatened daily by environmental setbacks in the world. The setbacks differ country by country. The one thing we do have in common is that it is all up to mankind to preserve the environment and maintain the beauty of the places we choose to live permanently or temporarily.

In my little corner of the world in St. Eustatius, we too have a few environmental matters to deal with. I will try my best to address the areas that I think are most important.

I am only 10 years old, so you can imagine I will need a great deal of help to accomplish this task. I would seek the support of my teachers and fellow students to start an anti-litter campaign.

The first place to start would be our school premises, moving to our homes and neighborhoods.

This anti-litter campaign would focus on actual cleanup throughout the island, competitions for the best posters, signs, best garden and best school playground.

The objective would be to create awareness and help citizens to take more pride in their island by preserving the environment and maintaining its beauty.

Another way to deal with the problem would be to start a recycling project with my friends. We would have fun by collecting bottles, cans, paper and plastic, and removing them from our environment in a creative way.

Also, as a youth volunteer at the St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation, I would encourage the use of environmentally friendly products at supermarkets and other businesses. Environmentally friendly products will safeguard the natural environment.

When plastic bags end up in the ocean, sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish. They eat the bag, which sticks in their systems and stops them from eating. This is indeed a cruel and unnecessary death caused by a few inconsiderate people.

My mother and I like to plant fruit trees all over the island. I would enjoy seeing the growth of guava, tamarind, mango, papaya, bananas, soursop and sugar apple trees everywhere for free tasting by residents and visitors to St. Eustatius.

I would make use of my small voice to speak to all those jokers who think its OK to throw soda cans, bottles and napkins on the ground. My friends and I will hand-paint beautiful island scenes on bins and place these in the parks.

I dont like it when my island looks messy! A messy island reflects on all the people who live there and not just the few who are the real cause of the problem. One spoiled apple can really spoil the whole bunch, if you allow it.

My taking responsibility for the environment on my tranquil and charming island of St. Eustatius would be a task I would carry out with lots of pride and joy.

What about you?


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