The start of January next year will be the end of an era of destruction to the environment.
Single-use plastics and Styrofoam are due to be banned from that date – and if that is carried off successfully, it will be a feather in the cap for the government.
There is a long way to go, however. After all, our thoughts go to the lack of significant action in the wake of the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act 2014, which brought a deadline of the end of 2017 for every building used by the public to have easy access for those who are blind, deaf, use a wheelchair or have other disabilities.
To this day, many with a disability will tell you there are a host of buildings which still have not offered that access in full. Next time you are in a store – the same stores that will be required to get rid of plastic bags soon – take note of how many have braille labels for products, or have a disabled bathroom that is accessible, or monitor parking areas to ensure spaces for the disabled are only occupied by those entitled to be there.
We live in hope, however, and applaud those stores and organisations already making plans for the change.
Last week, we wrote about measures taken at Baha Mar to stop the use of plastic straws and use paper instead; Atlantis committing to get rid of their single-use plastic; the Island House phasing out their single-use plastic and Starbucks promising a discount if you bring your own reusable cup.
AML Foods – owner of Solomon’s, Fresh Market and Cost Right – are on target for the 2020 deadline and had been ahead of the game at Fresh Market with a bring-your-own-bag scheme.
Rupert Roberts, owner of Super Value, says in today’s Tribune his company is still making preparations, already having biodegradable bags but sourcing items for the salad bar and another few things.
Not all stores are as up to speed– with Centreville Food Store owner Tony Miller saying: “We don’t have anything else to put the groceries in” and wanting to know of reusable bags: “Who is going to buy the bags?”
The store is presumably paying for the plastic bags it presently uses and it will need to budget for the costs of replacements – rather than look to the government to fund the alternative.
That said, there will be stores and businesses who just don’t know what to do – and measures by the Ministry of Environment and Housing to hire an advertising agency to get information into the hands of those who need it are welcome. We would also urge those confused by what to do next to get in touch with those already making strides – as well as the Bahamas Plastic Movement – so that collectively people can take action to meet the deadline.
There is no negative to this ban – it will at a fell swoop help to improve our environment and we should work together to reach the finish line at the end of the year.
It really is a change that will benefit all of our futures.