The problems with run-off

Friday, March 11th, 2011

With all the rain and the ensuing run-off these past few months, the RMP received many questions about the effects of sedimentation on the reef. The earliest coral reef researchers recognized that coral growth was strongly inhibited wherever muddy freshwater enters the sea. Negative impacts of rivers include the introduction of freshwater and sediments such as mud, silt, and clay. While freshwater can cause bleaching, excessive sediment smothers and kills coral. Corals differ greatly in their ability to resist sedimentation, however most species are highly intolerant of even small amounts.

Unfortunately for the coral of Roatan, increases in development often worsen sedimentation. One of the main culprits is coastal dredging, like that which has occurred in Mahogany Bay and French Cay. Dredging generates huge muddy plumes which smother reefs in areas that previously had clear water. These plumes continue to cause damage long after the dredging has ceased as the mud is re-stirred by every storm, causing clouds of sediment to slowly work their way down coastlines, damaging reefs many times more before they are washed away.

The other main cause of sedimentation is soil erosion caused by increased deforestation and development. Depending on rainfall, topography, soil types, and land management, deforestation and development can result in up to thousand-fold increases in sedimentation in near shore waters. As a result sedimentation is taking a severe toll on almost all coastal reefs worldwide. In healthy coastal watersheds, sediments are naturally removed from fresh water before it enters the sea. Plants such as grass, trees, and mangroves act as buffers between the land and the sea by trapping sediment. If the natural buffer zones are damaged, sediment runs straight out onto the reef.

Roatan’s soil is composed mainly of red clay, which is easily soluble. After a heavy rain, it’s easy to see the threat to the reef as huge muddy plumes of water fill our lagoons. Our island’s reefs are under great threat of sedimentation. Unregulated deforestation and development, illegal road building (especially during rainy season), and the rampant destruction of huge swathes of mangroves, the list of threats is endless. Only through more conscientious development will Roatan’s reefs have a fighting chance.


Making a difference

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

We humans generate  pounds of waste every day, creating a tremendous impact on the planet’s health. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Making a difference is not about being a big hero, it is simply about leaving the bathroom a little cleaner going out, than when you came in?” There are many small things that we can do to support the cause of having a healthy Mother Earth.

You can start by replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. This is a great idea, considering they last much longer and will save you money on your electricity bill and protect the environment. What about taking shorter showers? Two or three minutes less saves 9-12 gallons of water. If you have noticed leaky faucets and pipes at home, fix them as soon as possible. A dripping tap can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year! Also, drive less: walk, ride a bike, or plunge in and swim to work. You’ll exercise and save money.

Always remember to dispose of trash properly: most trash eventually finds its way to the oceans. A simple piece of bubble gum takes 60 years to degrade and cigarette butts, like most human-made trash, are not biodegradable. Pick up trash when you see it, whether in the street, on the beach, in the sea, or anywhere else. Get a re-usable bag to go shopping and have your own water bottle to avoid buying water in disposable plastic bottles. 

You can also become a volunteer of the Marine Park and do your part in supporting Roatán’s conservation efforts!


New eco-friendly products in our eco-store

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

When thinking about ways to conserve resources, reduce waste, and limit damage to the environment, we often overlook some of the simple changes that we can all make at home to reduce environmental contamination. The RMP endorses and sells several cleaning products that replace traditional products that are harmful to the environment. Rather than relying on harsh substances to break down dirt, many of these products use natural solvents and enzymes to remove dirt and stains. Below are a few of the products available in our eco-store.

Laundry Detergent

We stock an ultra-concentrated laundry detergent requiring just a half ounce per load of laundry. Its blend of biodegradable detergents, enzymes, and brighteners target stains and remove them without using toxic or corrosive chemicals.

All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner

This product uses a botanical disinfectant formula made with essential oil and citric acid. It is made from botanically pure plant extracts with pleasant aromatic vapors. These proven botanical ingredients kill over 99.9% of bacteria and viruses

Hand Dishwashing Liquid

The RMP stocks dish soap that leaves dishes spotless without harsh chemicals. Its formula contains biodegradable ingredients created with super-concentrated formulas.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

This Tub and Tile cleaner uses natural citric acid and oils to destroy soap scum, lime scale, and hard water spots. Unlike traditional cleaners, this cleaner does not contain chlorine bleach, strong acids like sulfuric acid that can be harmful if ingested, or phosphoric acid that can act like fertilizer to algae in waterways.

These are just a few of the products available that can help reduce environmental contamination on our island and in our waters. Because they are all highly concentrated they come in smaller bottles, which mean less plastic waste, and are competitively priced to traditional cleaners. You will find that it is possible to get a great product, help protect the environment, and save money at the same time.


Plastic Soup

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Although Honduran law states that all plastic brought to Roatan must be removed from the island, Roatan’s coast is awash with a toxic “plastic soup.” Plastic bags are used for an average of just 20 minutes before being dumped, and can take centuries to rot. Millions spread like urban tumbleweed through towns before ending up in the sea. Plastic waste in the oceans kills around 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals, turtles and other large animals each year. An estimated one million seabirds also die from strangulation, choking or starvation after eating seaborne plastic. Once an afflicted animal’s body has rotted, the bag is released back into the sea, to kill again and again.

The sheer volume of plastic in Roatan’s waters is appalling. It is an utter disgrace. People have often fought over fishing rights, claiming “ownership” over popular fishing grounds, but when it comes to protecting marine wildlife from plastic pollution, people’s sense of ownership and responsibility mysteriously fades. Isn’t it our responsibility to prevent these animals from becoming the victims of our careless, plastic bag culture? After all, there are perfectly adequate substitutes.

Pilot studies in the UK have successfully demonstrated that society CAN flourish without plastic bags. Major British supermarket chains have launched a “bags for life” policy. These are replaced free of charge by the store when they wear out and recycled. And it’s not just developed nations: In India people can now be jailed for seven years just for carrying a plastic bag.

Where major corporations have taken the initiative, it has encouraged millions of people to change their behavior. This initiative could easily be applied here too. It is absolutely vital that we urge all stores to act responsibly, possibly introducing a small charge for plastic bags. However, we as consumers must also change our attitude – bring our own bag! It is time to break the carrier bag habit. It’s not difficult, it’s not painful, but it IS responsible.