Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tell stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.
Meet Nakita, the environmental manager for the island of Mustique. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago where she worked on various environmental projects but has worked on Mustique for three years now. She’s passionate about the ocean and even did her thesis in marine protection. In her spare time, she loves to walk her dog Gypsy.
Learn more about Cotton House here>
Why is Mustique such a special place to visit?‘It’s such an interesting place because of its history and how it became a private island. Colin Tennant, who purchased it in 1958, naturally drove sustainability from the beginning. We have also worked with the government of St. Vincent & the Grenadines to enforce conservation on the island. The wildlife that guests can see here is amazing too, like green sea turtles or pink rhino iguanas that are endemic to the Southern Caribbean.
As the Environmental Manager for the island, what does a typical work week look like for you?‘It’s pretty varied. I might take guests out snorkelling, overseeing the coral restoration project, giving environmental training to staff, and doing tasks such as looking at the products that we buy and making sure that they are green. Working with guests is a bigger part of my role than I thought it would be, but because this island is so pristine people love to ask questions about the sustainability efforts here.’
Has Mustique always had an eco-conscious focus, and has it evolved over time?‘We have the Mustique Company Act, created with the government which is a list of rules and guidelines on how we should manage the island, which includes the conservation area. There is also an environment committee which changes annually. It started as individual projects like a permaculture garden for the community, and then a few years ago they created my position for someone to come in and oversee these various initiatives.’
What is the coral restoration programme and how has it made a difference?‘In 2015, a team from the Florida Keys set up the coral restoration project. This included building two underwater nurseries, growing corals and since then we have outplanted 7,500 fragments. Reefs around the island are more vibrant now because of this work and biodiversity is greater with so many more fish. Guests can go on a tour to see these outplants and the nurseries, and we’ve had lots of positive feedback.’
What was the latest green initiative implemented on Mustique?‘We just installed water filtration systems throughout The Cotton House and our bars and restaurants on the island. Before, there was a mix of plastic and glass bottles, but now the glass bottles are refillable.’
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for Mustique to be even more sustainable?‘There are two things that we are currently working on. Firstly, we aim to reduce the amount of single-waste plastic on the island by installing filtration systems in individual villas on the island. We’re also looking to improve our waste management system with clean incineration, since there is no recycling facility in the Caribbean region and everything has to be shipped overseas, which leaves a significant carbon footprint.’
Is there a story you can share of a person who has been positively impacted on Mustique?‘There’s not just one person. In general our environmental initiatives are open to everyone. There is a primary school here and the kids learn about our projects. There is a small organic garden where they are growing vegetables led by our science teacher. In a way, we’re educating the next generation.’
What’s next for Mustique?‘We’re looking at carbon offsetting because of the emissions it takes to get here. We’ll continue to plant trees on Mustique and plan to work with other islands in St. Vincent & the Grenadines on planting mangroves every year as they’re good for sequestering carbon, and they also protect coastlines. Setting up a programme like that would be great.’
Learn more about Cotton House and do your own green checks here>