Skip to content

Kristal Ambrose: Igniting Bahamian youth to ban single-use plastics in the islands

2020 Goldman Prize winner Kristal Ambrose

December 1, 2020

The following is a statement by 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Kristal Ambrose.

By Kristal Ambrose

The gravity of receiving the Goldman Environmental Prize has yet to resonate with me, mainly because I am still in disbelief. As a young, Black Caribbean woman, I know that the Prize will allow me to open doors that unlock the power of voices and faces that look like mine, from places similar to where I am from, just as my predecessor Wangari Maathai did. It is a testament to the fact that you should always lead with heart and do the work, even when you think no one is watching.

When I set out to do this work, I never anticipated any accolades or fame. I just saw a problem and knew I had to do something about it. What started off as a quest to rid The Bahamas of plastic quickly morphed into a youth and community empowerment movement, a true grassroots effort filled with love, laughter and inspiration.

“I just saw a problem and knew I had to do something about.”

With this award, I am reminded to show up and act. I know that all it takes is a little spark to make a big flame. Today, I move forward proudly, knowing that my efforts were not in vain. This little girl from a little rock made an impact on the world.

Connecting youth to the environment and inspiring them toward action is an unprecedented joy, so I dedicate this award to them, my “plastic warriors,” and to many others, including my family—especially my dad Bobby and sister Lesha, my dear friend Will Simmons, Jack and Kim Johnson, Marcus Eriksen, Carolynn Box, Rose Blanchard, all supporting organizations, the island of Eleuthera and The Bahamas, and, most importantly, the Goldman Foundation for honoring me and my work.

Thank you immensely.

About the author:
 Kristal AmbroseOcean enthusiast Kristal Ambrose convinced the government of The Bahamas to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam containers and cups. Passionate about youth education, Kristal is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Bahamas Plastic Movement. Kristal won the Goldman Prize for Islands & Island Nations in 2020.




Related Posts

Protecting the Remarkable Coral Reefs of Raja Ampat, Indonesia

August 21, 2023 – By Michael Sutton

Zafer Kizilkaya of Turkey won the 2023 Goldman Environmental Prize for his successful efforts to establish an expansive network of marine reserves off the Turkish coast. But his marine conservation expertise extends far beyond the Mediterranean. For many years prior to his campaign in Turkey, Zafer worked as a marine biologist and National Geographic underwater…

Read more

The Fight for Our Rivers

July 25, 2022 – By Jacqueline Kehoe

Carving canyons, sustaining communities, feeding wildlife, and shaping history: rivers are integral to life on our planet. Despite their essential role, these rushing waterways make up just under half a percent of all surface freshwater on the planet. Rivers are rare, and they’re a prize worth fighting for. What Rivers Give Us Rivers are vastly…

Read more

World Oceans Day with Kristal Ambrose

June 8, 2022 – By Jacqueline Kehoe

For Kristal Ambrose, World Oceans Day is every day. A 2020 Goldman Prize winner, Kristal—nicknamed “Kristal Ocean”—rallied her community in the Bahamas to protect the seas, passing one of the most stringent plastic bans to date: the categorical ban of single-use plastics, which account for one-third of all plastic in our oceans. On the frontlines…

Read more