A little love is helping to make Bermuda better
It was formed as a way to make Bermuda better, to try and address different inequalities as well as environmental issues. Fiona McWhirter spoke to Bermuda is Love members to see how the group has grown.
Founders of a grassroots group that promotes sustainability and environmental protection said their work helped to increase awareness about the topics.
Bermuda Is Love gained momentum with events such as trash clean-ups and clothing giveaways after it formed in 2020.
It has since welcomed people from all walks of life in volunteer opportunities and has plans for more campaign work next year.
Courtney Clay, one of the group’s several founders, said: “It’s been so diverse. We’ve had people of all different races, genders, we’ve had people of different ages, from different backgrounds, people you would be surprised are volunteering.
“It’s been amazing because no two people who come are alike.
“The beauty of Bermuda is Love is that it’s accepting to anybody and we really just open our arms to anybody who we can help, anybody who wants to volunteer.”
Aaron Crichlow, a lawyer, said the group formed after he returned to the island from studying in London when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
He explained: “During that summer, 2020, I was really trying to think of ways we can make Bermuda better, try to address different socio-economic inequalities as well as the environmental problems."
Mr Crichlow said that he and his friends joined Jawonday Smith’s Get It Green group in trash clean-ups before Bermuda Is Love branched out to add other events to its agenda.
They included working at a community garden in the TN Tatem Middle School grounds.
Mr Crichlow, 27, explained: “We use three plots there and try to get other members of the community involved in growing their own food if they wanted to learn.
“Some people have never grown food before. They might not know what broccoli looks like or carrots …
“It’s just about trying to address food security and providing people with knowledge and also the space to grow their own food.”
Ms Clay, a 27-year-old print and textile designer, said: “Over the past couple of years that we’ve had Bermuda Is Love, I’ve definitely seen it catch on. People will come up to me and say, ‘you’re part of Bermuda Is Love, right? I want to volunteer’ and things of that sort.
“Even other organisations taking what we’ve done and applying it to whatever they do.
“I’ve seen a few events even recently where people have taken something we’ve done and just did the exact same thing, so it’s definitely catching on, for sure.
“I think it just makes people remember that helping people is a good thing and you can do it at any age. You don’t have to be retired, you don’t have to be in high school, even though we encourage all ages.”
She added: “It definitely creates a contagious kind of effect.”
Mr Crichlow said inviting people to take part in trash clean-ups helped them to be more mindful about litter, although he believed young people were “very much aware of climate change, of environmental problems, pollution”.
He added: “My thought process has been that we’re trying to change minds, trying to change habits and the culture itself.
“Our goal is more to meet people where they are and for me it was like, how can we stop the trash from being dropped in the first place?”
Mr Crichlow said: “While I think Government can be useful in terms of incentivising that change, I think us, as a grassroots organisation just getting out there and talking about the problem of trash in the first place, is doing something a bit different.”
The group’s December schedule includes a free legal advice clinic, volunteering at feeding programmes, a blood drive and a trash clean-up with Keep Bermuda Beautiful.
A “no new clothes” campaign ran in September when the global cost of fast fashion was highlighted alongside tips to upcycle garments and a school clothing giveaway.
Ms Clay said events helped to highlight individual impacts on the environment.
She explained: “Some people go back home and go to their parents or whoever they live with and they’re like, you know what, I want to be more conscious with the decisions I’m making so maybe I’ll recycle.
“It just makes you think twice when you’re buying things, when you’re using things, so I think it is definitely a ripple effect, especially when it’s coming from kids going to parents.”
Ms Clay believed that people in older generations were also increasingly aware of the need to live more sustainably.
She said: “It definitely starts with a change of mindset whether it’s one person from their family or one action that they see.”
Ms Clay said there will be another campaign in 2023 and the group was working on what will be the focus.
She highlighted: “It’s not about accolades or anything. It’s literally about teaching people and educating them about how to be a good person and what to do to help the environment and just help yourself really and people around you.”
Ms Clay said: “Bermuda Is Love just wants to spread love and awareness to people in Bermuda and help them to make it a better place, and help people think about what life can be if we all get together and collaborate to take care of it.”