July 17, 2018
Plastics and our environment – our role

Change is difficult for most people, even when the change is for our own good.

Recently, Massy Supermarket introduced a 25 cent charge on each single use plastic bag used to package groceries. The supermarket chain said the charge was introduced as a deterrent, in the hope that shoppers will be encouraged to bring from home their own reusable bags.

Some consumers have complained about the move, describing it as a money making exercise by the regional company. If this is consumers’ main objection to the initiative by Massy, we can easily defeat the company in this purported effort by bringing our own reusable bags from home.

But it really is important for us to be more conscious about our use of plastics and the impact they are having on the environment.

We applaud Massy for taking the lead to reduce the quantity of plastic sent to our landfills and we hope that other businesses will soon follow suit.

The problem with plastics is that when they are being made, they emit considerable amounts of pollutants to the environment and once made, they are almost impossible to get rid of. According to the Natural Environment website, 60 to 100 million barrels of oil are required to manufacture a year’s worth of plastic bags worldwide, and it takes approximately 400 years at least, for a bag to break down.

Plastic bags also kill thousands of marine creatures each year. The bags block the entrance to the stomach and cause starvation in a number of marine species, including sea turtles, whales and sea birds. Some animals confuse plastic bags with jellyfish or other food and actively seek them out even if they spot them from a distance.

Even when we try to destroy plastics by incineration, we pollute the air, land and water and expose the public to toxic chemicals, including carcinogens.

We should all, as consumers be seeking to reduce how much waste we send to the landfill. The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. We should also explore options to recycle and reuse like repairing products when they go bad, buying reusable products instead of disposable ones and purchasing used products or those that use less packaging.