When the ban on single-use plastics was first proposed, we warmly welcomed it in this column – with one caveat: It has to be enforced.
Well, now we know what teeth the law has. A series of fines have been revealed – with up to $2,000 for a first offence, and $500 for each day the offence continues. That’s a high price to pay for not following the new law – and a sharp reminder to people to fall in line.
For those who don’t learn their lesson the first time, the fine goes up to $3,000 and $700 per day. As for those who try to obstruct inspectors or lie to them, that can land them in jail for up to six months.
There are exemptions – with businesses able to sell compostable single-use bags for up to $1 plus VAT – but out go the styrofoam cups and plates, away go the plastic knives, forks, spoons and straws. Balloon releases too are banned – so scrap that from the birthday celebrations or corporate events.
The reason for all of this is clear – too much plastic debris finds its way into the environment in ways that are harmful.
Plastic finds its way into the oceans, where it kills fish, seabirds and other forms of marine life. For a nation so proud of its waters, it is only right that we take action to eliminate such garbage, and make a real difference to the ocean around us.
Take a swim off our shores and too often you will see plastic bags in the sea, or cast aside cups floating by. It is time for that to stop.
We hope that people see for themselves the need to change this kind of behaviour, this pouring of harmful waste into our environment. But for those among us who do not wish to change, these penalties will make them think more than twice.
That leaves just one more task – there is no point making laws such as these if we don’t enforce them. The inspectors charged with stopping the flow of plastic waste must be given the proper funding, and they must operate without fear or favour. Anyone still supplying prohibited plastics must be punished equally, whether it’s the smallest bush cafe or a business run by a government minister.
The expectation must be that people won’t get away with avoiding the rules. After all, we are proud of the waters that surround us – it’s only fair that we do all we can to help them to shine.
Time to cast off our taboos
The government intends to review the school curriculum to bring it up to date – including in the area of sexual education. It’s about time.
We often report in the pages of The Tribune on the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, and the regular HIV testing sessions that are held around the country in an effort to reduce the spread of such infections.
When we send our children to school, we want to equip them with the knowledge they need to deal with the world they are growing up into. It is only sensible then to prepare them for a world where sexual diseases exist, and prepare them with what they need to know to guard against such.
It can of course be a touchy subject – a taboo that lingers still across the world – but we hope we can have a mature discussion about what our children need. This is for their knowledge, and their safety, and to shy away from the discussion would do them a disservice.
There is another prize too – a future Bahamas run by our children where perhaps, at last, such taboos can be forgotten.