With many major entertainment events, there comes the issue of waste. Earlier this year, carnival bands campaigned about reducing plastic consumption by walking with your own party cups and providing biodegradable lunchboxes for the thousands of revellers who hit the road.
Before the masses travel to the north coast for Reggae Sumfest, popular broadcaster Nikki Z is in the midst of launching another such campaign as an ambassador for the world-renowned Alligator Head Foundation.
“When I heard that the team at Reggae Sumfest wanted to find a better way to discard the plastics accumulated at these big events, I got together with the team at Alligator Head Foundation, and we met,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
Nikki Z, along with internationally renowned reggae band Third World, supermodel, singer, and icon Grace Jones, and young performer Wayne J, is an ambassador for the foundation, which is committed to ocean life restoration.
Nikki Z is along for this ride because her experience in the public eye has proven that advocacy through public figures is effective. “It definitely works. When I talk about certain topics on my page and radio show, people are always contacting me because this is information they didn’t know.”
She continued: “When we listen to what they’re saying – predicting the rise in the water over the few years, the plastic in the water, what it’s doing and how many animals and oceans are affected – a lot of people never really look into that so when you put in their face little by little, people do get affected – and they want to make changes. The key to it is being consistent and letting them know how to care about the environment.”
Alligator Head Foundation
Francesca Thyssen Bornemisza is board chairwoman of the Alligator Head Foundation. For Vanity Fair Spain’s environmental issue (June 2019), she is Vanity Fair’s cover star and was specially highlighted for her ongoing work for the restoration, conservation, and preservation of natural resources and habitats. “The oceans are the passion of my life. Really,” she told the magazine.
Bornemisza’s father (Baron Hans-Heirinch Thyssen Bornemisza) owned a residence in Jamaica, where her own children were taught to swim. But trips beneath the surface became difficult, and less beautiful, with disappearing reefs and fish. “Fishing had razed the reefs. It was my turning point,” she said. In response, she developed a project between the Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) and The University of the West Indies, the Alligator Head Foundation.
“If you witness the annihilation of several species, of such radical changes in the ecosystem, you cannot ignore it,” she said.
The foundation is a sequestered six-kilometre conservation area, the Fish Sanctuary of East Portland, and it is on a mission to revitalise natural systems and restore marine life. In July 2016, The East Portland Special Fishery Conservation Area was officially gazetted under the Jamaican Fishing Industry Act. Since then, biomass has increased by 200 per cent. Bornemisza said: “It’s amazing how the oceans recover if they are given the opportunity.”
Ambassadorship & Advocacy
As an ambassador of Alligator Head Foundation, Nikki Z hopes to impart environmental awareness to those who may attend the highly anticipated reggae music festival weekend. “I’m gonna be going on the road with Downsound producer Skatta Burrell – just talking to people about the plastic ban and why it’s so important that we really use less – and also to recycle – find ways to reuse. Keeping it green … and blue!”
She revealed that the Alligator Head Foundation would have a booth space at Reggae Sumfest.
“We’re gonna have some pretty cool things on display. I don’t want to say too much about that now, but it’s all about teaming up with great people who want to do great things for the environment. We’ll be working with them – hopefully, for a long time to come. We’ll be fine-tuning better strategies so we can reduce the imprint that we leave,” Nikki Z said.