There are a number of processes I usually go through before I can decide what to write about. At times, it may delay the release of a new blog. One of these processes involves reading various letters to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner. I recently came across one on the weekend entitled “Short-sighted to ban plastic bag”, written by Glen McFarlane, from St. Catherine. The letter had strong points, mainly the point stating that it will be very expensive for citizens to stop using plastic bags and instead use environmentally safe alternatives. I strongly agree with this point, however, I have a few other concerns. Are Jamaicans properly informed as to are the best alternatives to using plastic bags are? What is the cost to make the switch? Will switching from plastic to other environmentally safe alternatives, stop pollution? Here are Sharla’s Thoughts.
While I commend the government for officially making the move to ban plastic bags, they have failed to properly inform the Jamaican public of the best plastic bag alternatives that are environmentally safe. It is not enough to simply ban the plastic bags and say why the ban is the best option. We, Jamaicans, need to be informed of the best alternatives available. When citizens are properly informed, it will be easier for them to agree to the ban and cooperate with the government. A ban on plastic bags is the best option if we are to preserve our environment that is already heavily polluted, but how much will this cost?
A study conducted by Trucost, a company that makes estimates about the hidden costs of unsustainable use of natural resources by companies, found that “the environmental cost of using plastics in consumer goods and packaging is nearly four times less than it would be if plastics were replaced with alternative materials.” https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Study-from-Trucost-Finds-Plastics-Reduce-Environmental-Costs/ Based on this study, we can conclude that the cost to use alternative products and materials will be expensive. Island Grill, a company that does not use plastic bags or plastic products, has said via CEO Thalia Lyn in an article on Nationwide Newsnet, that “there is a heavy cost attached to the importation of eco-friendly packaging, and it will be a challenge for many companies to switch.” http://nationwideradiojm.com/island-grill-boss-urges-govt-to-make-environmentally-friendly-packaging-cheaper/ Though it is an expensive venture, there are many ways we can make it more affordable.
The government’s plastic buyback scheme, valued at $75 million dollars, will definitely help to assist companies that produce plastic bags, with offsetting some of the cost related to using plastic bag alternatives and alternative plastic materials. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20180610/govt-allocates-75m-plastic-bottle-buy-back-scheme Another great option, is a suggestion made by Island Grill CEO Thalia Lyn, who has said that “the government should lower the duty on environmentally friendly packaging.” This is another way for companies to offset the cost of producing and distributing eco-friendly products. The government can also negotiate with trade partners on behalf of the companies to ensure the best prices for eco-friendly products are provided. These suggestions and plans will be of great help to all the companies that produce and/or distribute plastic bags and plastic products, but what about the rest of Jamaica? How can we as citizens reduce the use of plastic bags, make our environment safe and cooperate with the government?
The first step in achieving this is to educate ourselves on the importance of the ban and the alternative products available. We DO NOT need to depend on the government to provide this information. We can do our own research and read up on the topic. Secondly, we need to recycle more and STOP polluting our rivers, drains, gully and streets. If we agree to comply to the ban on plastic bags, and continue to pollute our environment with other items, we are still destroying our country. Our National Anthem says “Jamaica, land we love.” If we truly love our country, why do we continue to litter and pollute it? Why do we watch our children litter and pollute it, yet we do nothing? Come on Jamaica, we need to do better. Let us work with the government and play our part in making our country environmentally safe for us, our children, our animals and the generations to come. Let us teach our children how to take care of their environment. Let us take better care of Jamaica, land we love. These are few of my eco-friendly thoughts, tell me what you think.
Note: The government has announced that they will be embarking on an education campaign regarding the ban on plastic bags.https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/gov-t-starts-education-campaign-on-plastic-styrofoam-ban_146382?profile=1606