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Trinidad and Tobago church challenges plastic pollution

Trinidad and Tobago church challenges plastic pollution

Rev. Anabell Lalla-Ramkhelawan, moderator of the Presbyterian Church Trinidad and Tobago. Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

09 October 2018

Turtles, both in the Caribbean and elsewhere, are becoming increasingly confused. Their main prey of jelly fish doesn’t taste the same nowadays and is much more difficult to digest. Often, turtles die after having ingested plastic bags they thought were jelly fish.

Plastic debris polluting the waters and reefs around Trinidad and Tobago, where the leatherback turtle nests, have become a serious threat to the environment which also affects the largely tourism-dependent economy of the twin island nation.

The Presbyterian Church Trinidad and Tobago (PCTT) has decided to do something about it.

“We have launched reusable bags that we can take to the supermarket, to the grocery store or marketplace. To stop more thousands of plastic bags from ending up in the ocean, we are trying to encourage our people and the country to use recyclable bags,” explained PCTT moderator Rev. Anabell Lalla-Ramkhelawan, when meeting a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation in the capital Port of Spain last week.

The initiative may reduce plastic pollution and help a vulnerable species to recover. The leatherback turtle, which is the largest sea turtle in the world, is listed in the “threatened” category by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“We distribute the bags to our congregations and give large quantities of bags directly to the members of our congregations, so they can give to those around them. We also distribute them in all our national gatherings and in the church schools”, Lalla-Ramkhelawan added.

For WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, this is yet another example of an effective local church initiative aimed at repairing environmental damage caused by mankind: “Again, we see the impact of local commitment and the role local congregations play in our pilgrimage of justice and peace. Local faith-based communities can offer important initiatives and commitments and should contribute to addressing the threats to our environment”, Tveit said.

Upon arrival in Port of Spain last Friday, he was greeted by Rev. Gerard Granado, general secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches and also met with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Trinidad and Tobago.

His brief stop in the twin island capital was part of a Caribbean tour which also included Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua. During the trip the WCC general secretary visited congregations and local communities, preached and shared his views on ecumenical formation with church leaders and others.

The general secretary also met for two hours with the Nuncio for the Caribbean region, Fortunatus Nwachukwu, who is based in Trinidad and Tobago.

WCC general secretary to visit Caribbean (WCC press release 28 September 2018)

WCC's work on Care for creation and climate justice