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DIANE PHILLIPS: Good riddance to that planet-killing piece of throwaway plastic

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Diane Phillips

With eyes on COVID-19, the economic fall-out and an attempt to re-open the borders, it would have been easy to overlook a major milestone this week – crunch time. July 1, 2020, time to kiss those single-use plastics goodbye.

Seriously GOODBYE. As in forever, as in I never want to lay eyes on, or hear the sound of a knife scraping a piece of chicken in a screechy Styrofoam carry-out container again. As far as I am concerned, that was a product which should never have come about in the first place and can’t be done away with fast enough.

It wasn’t just the screech of that god-awful worst of all plastics that came to an end this week. Single-use plastic bags, forks, knives, spoons and straws joined single-use Styrofoam containers as the official single use plastic ban came into force after more than two years of threats and promises.

If you were taken by surprise that it was for real, finally, that single-use plastics were as welcome as a guest without a mask, maybe you napped for about a thousand days right through the efforts of a Cabinet minister named Romauld ‘Romi’ Ferreira.

Ferreira gave us plenty of warning. It was in his manifesto - or whatever he called it - when he ran for office in Marathon in 2017 and which was reaffirmed when he was elected and appointed to Cabinet later that year. He reaffirmed it again in 2018 and in 2019 and gave shopkeepers, wholesalers and other bulk users six months to use up or get rid of their stock.

Still, some said they were caught by surprise. Surprise? But, what the heck, that’s how we go. We never get enough warning. We need more time. How come we don’t need more time when they say they are going to open the beaches or increase NIB pension payments? We only need more time when we know we have to do something we don’t want to do.

So let’s take a quick step back. We know why plastic is bad. It does not degrade (and even biodegradable plastic only breaks down into smaller pieces). It chokes landfills, harms marine, bird and wildlife. It takes vast amounts of harmful energy to produce, adding to climate change. It clogs entire systems, smothers coral reefs as garbage, is made from non-renewable resources and exacerbates extreme algae growth leading to eutrophication. That’s only a partial list.

But it was a good enough list of what’s bad to motivate others to initiate a partial or complete ban long before The Bahamas.

Bangladesh was first, as far back as 2002 because of health reasons stemming from plastics clogging drains.

In our region, Antigua and Barbuda were among the leaders in 2016 with Antigua stiffening fines for violations two years later. On March 1, the state of New York banned single use plastic bags after New Yorkers had been tearing through 23 billion of the thin throwaways a year.

Who hasn’t seen the horror photos of Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island larger than France that is nothing but plastic trash?

When China - which used to import nearly half of all the world’s garbage to recycle and manufacture everything from chairs to shoes - stopped accepting trash as it tried to clean up its own water and air, the world was faced with a new dilemma – how to maintain a level of quick consumerism with no quick way to package and carry the goods?

It was an interesting dilemma. How to maintain the pace of consumerism reliant of packaging when the number one recipient of the packaging remains no longer wanted them?

With no place to send its trash, the world really had no choice but to make less of it and thus – the ban. So washable, re-useable hat’s off to Ferreira, his team and his determination to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time. We will get used to carrying our own bags to pick up lunch or toothpaste just as we already have going into the food store.

And may we be forever spared from the screech of plastic knife against Styrofoam which should take its place in a museum of ideas alongside the first Hoover vacuum that we were told made life so much easier, helping housewives because they could push a button and make their vacuum recline, getting into all those hard-to-clean places. 

Bob Marley lives on

If you recall the famous line ‘A hungry man is an angry man’ you’ll appreciate even more how important efforts like the Bahamas Feeding Network and Lend a Hand are.

You’ll understand why the government created the Food Security Task Force. You’ll applaud the individual initiatives like Mario Carey and the Better Homes and Gardens real estate team, Paolo Garzaroli, the chefs and family members of Graycliff and a woman named Kay-Kay of Bahamas Supercenter who together prepped and served nearly 40,000 meals over a nine-week period. Not because anyone asked them to. Just because they knew the need was there.

Bob Marley said it in a voice that cried out, reminding us that hunger and anger are only a few letters apart.

As for the sign, I spotted it at NRG on West Bay Street where it still sits on a counter reminding us that as we feed ourselves, we might just want to pick up a little extra for the man, the woman, the child who treads that fine line between an empty belly and a hard heart.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

They were not single use plastic bags. the first lie. there are plastic bags all over for fruits. chicken and for garbage, the list goes on. The FNM Government must have been instructed to take them away from the poor. the merchants win the poor lose.

Imagine how much money they save and the poor has a added expense

Life for the poor has become more difficult under the FNM Government. if they see it as a reason to rejoice then good for them. for making the lives of poor people more difficult

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

Romauld Ferreira what he should be about is the oil spill in East Grand Bahama. you see that is money there big money. the man of two birds and one goat found it easy to take plastic bags from the poor they have no money.

but the oil spill which harms the environment more does not mean much.

i

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 1 month ago

You aint the brightest light bulb in the room huh?

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