I read an article that talked about the enormous waste pile floating in the Pacific ocean. 80% of this pile is plastics; all types of plastics ranging from broken hard plastic pieces from components of your everyday equipment, to packaging (with this being the most commonly found). The swirling pile of garbage is said to be larger than the state of Texas. To put that in context lets think of an area half the size of Kenya littered with all types of stuff as far as the eye can see. This is what the use, and irresponsible disposal, of plastics is doing to the planet.
Once I read the article and watched this heart wrenching video i found on Vimeo it had me think about how the use of paper or plastic is not even an option in Kenyan supermarkets. The government did attempt to regulate use of plastic bags by enacting a levy on bags of a certain gauge. The result-the use of even thinner bags which have a shorter usability period as they tear too quickly leading to a faster trip to the rubbish pile. The overall effect of this stands to be an increase in the quantity of plastic bags used and not a reduction as I am sure the levy was intended for.
Next it made me ask the question whether offering this amount of choice to the consumer is a good idea in the first place. The consumer will make a choice best for them at that particular moment in time and not one necessarily beneficial to the entire community; they will take the plastic bag. I am of the school of thought that we cannot rely on the population to do that which would be termed as beneficial if it does not directly benefit them in some way. Incentives need to come into play for this e.g the existence of deposits on bottles such as to ensure the consumer takes them back for recycling, the extra fee on plastic shopping bags in European supermarkets to discourage their use, regulations in place to make companies responsible for all the waste that bears their logo (best demonstrated in electronic waste recycling laws).
The government plays a big role in ensuring systems function. The government represents the population and makes decisions on its behalf. The simplest assumption a government can make is that people are barbarians (especially when in control of 4 wheels) and need all type of regulations to avoid killing each other. Governments everywhere need to protect the people from themselves. It is not about them(the politicians and their constant games), it is about US. They need to enact regulations that may not be popular but are necessary for sustainable development. Plastic is killing the earth. At this point I may sound like some hippie embracing mother earth but I do believe we ALL do need to be more aware of the consequences of our actions if we are to start tackling the question of minimizing waste.
A regulation I would fully support would be the complete ban of plastic bags. Rwanda did it. I do not see anyone dieing from a lack of bags with which to throw out the trash, do you?
Join the movement: reduce your use of plastic.