Pledged to a Beautiful Island
Aruba is a truly unique place, a beautiful island that everyone should discover or re-discover. The sand beneath your toes, the breeze in your hair, and the sea at your doorstep make life on this little slice of paradise pure bliss.
— By Miguel van der Velden
— Photography Kenneth Theysen
In the 1980s, Aruba rolled out the welcome mat so that everyone could revel in its beauty. But more people meant more waste, and, like in so many other places, the tourist influx made it difficult to keep the tiny island clean. People were coming to enjoy nature at its purest, but leaving the island’s environment more and more difficult to clean and manage. The evidence was everywhere - plastic bags drifting in the wind, foam cups sticking out of the sand, and plastic straws littering the beach.
Some of these products belonged to a local company selling cleanware and cookware. Aruba Supplies & Distribution (ASD), established in 2003, provides toilet paper, cutlery, pots and pans, and even entire kitchens to Aruba’s hotels, restaurants and homes. A few years into its operation, after a steady expansion and increased customer base, the company realized that its products were not ending up where they were supposed to – in the trash.
ASD confronted an elemental question: was there a sustainable future for Aruba? Some people said that tourism couldn’t be sustainable, that there simply was no way to have a clean, healthy island and a thriving, tourism-based economy at the same time. But ASD disagreed.
Since the problem was its very own products, ASD’s team took a pledge. Not to the world, the government, not even to the island, but to themselves. They pledged that if anyone would find trash on the island, it would not be their trash. But to keep this promise, they couldn’t just start selling alternatives to plastic and foam; they had to stop selling the original products altogether. This, they knew, could go both ways: the plan could be a massive success for the island or a massive failure for the company. The team held its breath and took the leap.
One by one, ASD’s most damaging items disappeared from its shelves and were replaced with better, cleaner options. In 2016, ASD stopped selling plastic bags and replaced them with more sustainable paper bags. In 2017, they swapped all their styrofoam products for carton and plant fiber alternatives. The island’s hotels and restaurants, themselves already building greener operations, embraced the new products, and within a few months, they were a massive success.
But ASD didn’t stop there. Since 2017, it has been installing solar panels on its property, aiming to one day be 100% powered by renewable energy. Three electric forklifts are already operating in its warehouse, soon to be powered by the company’s own solar panels, and electric cars are on the way.
For 2018, ASD is planning to stop selling all its disposable plastic products. It will replace one-time use plastic plates, utensils, straws and cups with cleaner, greener alternatives made of wood, carton or plant fibers.
ASD’s message is simple and clear: all of us, locals and tourists, as well as the island’s animals and plants deserve a clean Aruba. All of us deserve white beaches and turquoise waters free of man-made trash; an island as pure as the one we cherished fifty years ago.
By replacing unsustainable products with sustainable ones, taking one-time use plastic and styrofoam off its shelves, and installing solar panels, ASD is aiming to create a new Aruba, one where the environment is celebrated and protected rather than exploited. ASD is pledged to a beautiful island.
& Distribution (ASD)
Hotel and Restaurant Equipment