Goodbye plastic!

Author : teriann

If you have ever gone to the supermarket then you are familiar with the sight of endless plastic bags.  Sometimes the bags are doubled as they can hardly accommodate the groceries.  There is hardly any Jamaican home that does not have a ‘stash’ of these plastic bags.

Where do these bags usually end up? In the ever growing pile of garbage that at times threatens to overpower us or in our gullies blocking our drains.

Styrofoam worries

The other popular container in Jamaican is Styrofoam. This material is known to keep heat from penetrating the container which has made it extremely useful for persons in the food industry.

This material is also known to have carcinogenic properties and their daily use made environmentalists worry about their long term effect on the environment.

The effect of plastic on the environment

These items such as plastic and Styrofoam created ease of movement and consumers seemed content to take the options they were given for their food items. The impact however of our continued use of plastic and Styrofoam on the environment has been devastating. These items are not biodegradable so they can last years without being decomposed.

There have also been studies that show that when these items are burnt, the air quality has been tested and carcinogenic properties have been detected.  This has led to elevated figures for persons who contract various types of cancer in areas where those types of materials are burnt.

Although widely used by consumers, there have been a number of protests by environmentalists that we are drowning in plastic and that government policies should be shifted to ensure that we keep their harmful properties away from our beautiful island.

Recently the government has announced a ban on the importation and use of selected plastic and Styrofoam items. this ban will be effective January 1, 2019.

Exceptions to the ban will include bags “utilized to maintain public health or food safety standards,” such as bags used to package raw meats, flour, rice and other foods commonly transported in smaller bags. Consumers are being encouraged to use reusable carrier bags, particularly by local enterprises,” as outlined in the government advisory.

There are a number of  alternatives to those items that are better for the environment. These alternatives include using recycled material and learning to reuse items instead of simply discarding them after one use.

I am excited to see how this policy will ‘clean up’ the country’s image and hope that it will generate some positive buzz to attract visitors to our shores.

Policy enforcement

I hope that this ban will be enforced on a local level as persons need to be educated about the dangers of plastic to every aspect of our lives.

I realize that  change comes with a price but having treated our island so poorly over the years we have to do something drastic in order to ensure that we have something to pass on to our children.

So grab a bag when you are going shopping or be prepared to place your groceries in other things such as paper bags.

what’s your take on the issue? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Teri Ann Renee Paisley

Gleaner online writer

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