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Aruba’s pristine beaches and clear, turquoise waters lure more than one million visitors seeking relaxation and fun under the sun every year.
Balancing tourism with sustainability, particularly on a small island of less than 70 square miles, requires a community effort through a variety of platforms, initiatives, and governance.
Plastic pollution is one of the worst culprits of environmental destruction, harming wildlife and marine life and their natural habitats, and also introduces toxic chemicals to water and food sources for humans. Aruba began weeding single-use plastics out of circulation on the island in 2017 with a ban on single-use plastic bags. In November 2019, Aruba’s Parliament unanimously voted to ban
additional single-use items including plastic cups and plates, straws and stirrers, plastic utensils, and plastic to-go containers.
(note: businesses have until July 1, 2020 to deplete any current stock already on the island).
In November 2019, Parliament also banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone. This chemical contributes to coral bleaching, which can ultimately kill entire reef systems. Two local companies, Aruba Aloe and Arubalife Organics, produce reef-safe, mineral-based sunscreens.
The Aruban government has focused on renewable energy for several years, starting with the Vader Piet Windmill Farm completed in 2009, where 17 percent of the island’s electricity needs are generated.
Aruba has a many-pronged approach to sustainability, and one very important prong is the way in which waste is handled to ensure a healthy environment. To help encourage the reduction of waste and promote a circular economy, Aruba’s officially appointed waste management company, Serlimar, recently added another initiative to its waste-reduction efforts. On July 12, 2019, Serlimar opened the doors of its new Upcycle Center, which focuses on the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse & recycle) for a cleaner, more beautiful, and more sustainable Aruba.
Aruba’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fishery, locally known as Santa Rosa, serves the community by initiating projects that promote better practices in local husbandry and fishing. Santa Rosa also aims to raise awareness of the importance of locally grown and harvested products. The department reports that a number of developments are happening both at Santa Rosa and in the field.
One recent achievement for Santa Rosa is the “10,000 Trees for Aruba” project, where a total of 10,000 fruit trees were planted in neighborhoods around the island with the goal of providing residents with locally grown fruits.
A big step forward in local farming took place in July 2018 with the establishment of a new growers’ association called United Farmers Aruba (UFA). UFA is a co-op for both large- and small-scale farmers on Aruba working together to successfully produce high quality, sustainable agricultural products.
An increasing number of markets and events are popping up all across the island (including a once-a-month market at The Ostrich Farm), providing vendors with more opportunities to sell their products, many derived from local produce, such as wines, liquors, jam, and herbal products.
The journey to becoming an eco-friendly destination really doesn’t end. Even with the many green-friendly endeavors that the Aruban community and tourism industry are partaking in, sustainability is about constantly adapting and finding new ways to take care of our environment. New ways to generate green energy, but also reducing waste, and creating legislation to protect the beautiful island of Aruba and the rest of the world.