Greener World: Barbados

Barbados has always been a popular destination worldwide. Tucked in the heart of the Caribbean, this tropical island has been the go-to place for Honeymooners, families and people set to just “get away from it all.” And what’s not to like? With warm breezes rustling the palm leaves up above as the sandy beaches beckon anyone who is near, it is easy to see how many travelers have fallen in love with such a country.

Barbados may be a small country, not even reaching a population of 300 000, but are far more developed than some of the most fast-paced westernized countries. Barbados can be and is eco-friendly without even trying. They do not appear to be striving towards the newest, fastest and greatest technology out there to prove to the world that they have what it takes to help the environment. They just are. The casual culture that helps people relax for their two week holiday is exactly what other westernized countries should be paying attention to. Sure, things might move at a slower pace and life’s luxuries aren’t as materialistic as some other countries, but Barbados is a country that seems to know when it has a good thing that it’s better to keep it than throw it away.

In researching eco-friendly practices and environmentally conscious projects within Barbados, anything that popped up immediately was things that made attaching the label of “eco-friendly” a little redundant. Things like the company none other than Eco Dive Barbados. It is not really necessary to put within their company name that they are eco-friendly. Scuba diving is just simply one of the most eco-friendly activities a person can do while on holiday. In a beautiful place. While learning about the ecosystem of the ocean. In Barbados. A person might as well say that they are going for an eco-walk. Just as walking is eco-friendly (and great for the health) so is scuba diving.

Outside of plunging to the depths of the ocean floor to spot some brightly colored fish, Barbados offers many eco-friendly accommodation options. Places like Sea-U Guest House have an excellent website for anyone searching for a quiet getaway at a place trying to minimize their affect on the environment. Directly on main webpage, there is a section listing what the guest house does to make as little affect as possible on the environment. Sea-U Guest House aims to “conserve heat, conserve water, install eco-friendly lighting, reduce oil/gas carbon emissions, compost waste food, recycle wherever possible, use bio degradable cleaning agents, use reclamation building materials, use renewable natural furnishings, source food locally, offer local employment, instruct staff in green practices, include green room info packs, conserve/care for wildlife in our area” (It’s a Green World, 2012). No arguments with that!

This push towards environmentalism began in 1994 when Barbados hosted the United Nations Conference on the sustainable development of islands. With only 166 square miles of land available for 250,000 citizens, it made sense that the Bajans would work at becoming self-sufficient. Accompanying that conference was an initiative called the “Village of Hope” where every resident could define environmental problems and offer hopeful solutions. Some 45,000 people came to the resulting exhibit and the Future Centre, similar to the Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales, was born.

Today, all students study environmental science, turtle fishing has been banned-you’ll no longer find turtle soup on any menu-and Bajans are proportionately the world’s biggest users of solar water heaters outside Israel. You can visit an attraction called The Flower Forest, part garden and part nature trail, that sounds as if the flowers had grown as tall as palm trees. It conjures up images of Alice in Wonderland. Families can sign up to walk with the National Trust across the green hills or even by the light of the moon and snorkel with the fish and sea turtles.

The country even has its own eco hero – Colin Hudson, the director of the Future Centre. His medicinal plant garden in recycled tires is the largest known tire garden