by Megan Shaw, San Jose State University, California USA M.A. Applied Anthropology

You may have noticed me around town this summer; I was the girl with the notebook in my hand asking a lot of questions about garbage. For those of you I didnít have the pleasure of meeting; hi Iím Megan. I spent five weeks in San Pedro researching plastic consumption, waste management, environmental effects, community recycling programs, government initiatives, and individual vs. business behaviors.

This research was undertaken in part to fulfill requirements for my masterís degree in Applied Anthropology but also stemmed from my prior experiences in San Pedro. After spending the summer of 2016 in San Pedro, I realized not only how diverse and unique this community is but also that there is so much more happening that tourists will never truly see or understand.

One of the major issues I saw was in the consumption of plastics and waste management. In June, I set out to understand the impact of plastic consumption produced by the tourism industry on the island. I quickly realized that the issue of garbage and consumption didnít come from the tourists. In my research findings, the issue of garbage and waste management was more of a community issue. Yes, tourists consume lots of plastics and other products, but they only consume what is made available to them.

Over the course of several weeks, I talked/spoke with over 25 business owners and individuals. I wanted to understand what their current practices looked like surrounding plastic use, and how these may have changed in the last few years. Most businesses had or were planning to make changes to biodegradable alternatives. However, most felt that the government needed to incentivize these alternatives otherwise Styrofoam and plastics would continue to be the most used items.

When asked about the new plastic ban that was announced by the national government in the spring of this year most were aware of it but had little hopes for implementation and regulation of it at a community level. Many of the people I spoke with also stressed the importance of education within the San Pedro community on the issue of garbage. People want to see education on garbage-related issues being taught at all schools and to all children.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun