Since the day in 2017 on Kuta beach in Bali where I saw my first truly plastic polluted beach, I’ve been determined to reduce my plastic footprint. It is not easy. Virtually every product is now wrapped in plastic. Sometimes, the item is wrapped in plastic, secured with plastic zip ties, put into a rigid plastic bubble, then put into a plastic bag at the point of purchase.
I am making progress and a few simple changes have led to a significant reduction in my consumption and subsequent discarding of single use plastic.
I now carry a reusable stainless-steel coffee mug (no more plastic-lined paper cups and plastic lids). We’ve shifted to buying bulk food items using glass jars and fabric bags (instead of the plastic packaging and bags that are given away for free in most food stores). We sourced and switched to paper cotton swabs made from recycled paper products (the paper will eventually biodegrade wherever it ends up) and I have for years refused plastic shopping bags in favour of reusable fabric. We are far from perfect, but I can confidently say that it has made a difference. For the plastic that does come into my household, we have found places to recycle all of it. There is very little plastic waste entering the landfill from my home.
Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like the bad guys are winning, especially when it comes to plastic. The fact is, global numbers concerning the production of single use plastic are up. It has been reported that the oil industry now views plastic as their next growth market, but the fact that they are looking to diversify away from fuel production means that they are on their back foot. They must find other markets and channels for their product in order to maintain sales, profitability and growth.
Therefore it is nice to read the about progress being made in the Caribbean. In 7 Caribbean Countries Are Banning Single-Use Plastic Starting Jan. 1, writer Sophie Hirsh outlines the new program to help these countries to eliminate single use plastic. The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago have outlawed the use and sale of single-use plastic and polystyrene (Styrofoam) on January 1, 2020. This a huge win for the environment, the animals and the people who live there. Rich of natural beauty, and ocean life, the area is a favourite area for sailors and other tourists. More recently it has become known for large rafts of plastic debris on the oceans and white sand beaches covered with pollution. In fact, one study found that of the top thirty global plastic polluting countries per capita, ten are from the Caribbean region.
These 7 countries join a list of 60 other countries including my own home country of Canada, that will be enacting a single use plastic ban by 2021. In Canada less than 10 percent of disposable plastics are recycled, and we will throw away $11 billion worth of disposable plastic by 2030 unless things change.
These forward-looking countries and jurisdictions are proof that with consistent pressure from the public, our elected politicians will take notice and start to do the right thing.
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