Environmentalists happy with single use plastic ban

Sam Duncombe.

Local environmentalists are signing the Minnis administration high praises for “keeping up” with the global trend of banning plastics imports to the country.

Environmentalist and ReEarth Executive Director Sam Duncombe told Eyewitness News recently, that people should be more proactive and take initiative with saving the environment and ultimately their health.

“I am very, very pleased that we have decided to jump on this global effort to ban plastics,” Duncombe said.

“From the time ReEarth began, we always talked about individual action. And while a government step is certainly very powerful and very wanted, I would like to tell people you don’t have to wait for government.”

Duncombe pointed out that single plastic bags are often called biodegradable however, biodegradable products also have adverse effects on the environment and ultimately, our health.

“Over time they can break down. But what happens is they break down into tiny, tiny little pieces of plastics and they get into our soil, the marine environment and the marine life eats at it unwittingly,” she said.

“They estimate that 300 marine species and 50 sea bird species already have been found with plastic in their digestive system.”

According to Duncombe, a recent study indicated that people who eat seafood regularly are ingesting 11,000 micro particles of plastics every year.  Some particles, she said study noted, may be excreted but there are still traces of plastic left in the body.

“Just like when you breathe toxic air or you touch pesticides, you don’t know how it’s affecting your body but there is some long-term effects. What we do know is that plastic is made of petroleum and petroleum is carcinogenic,” she said.

According to Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira, in the upcoming weeks, he will begin reaching out to businesses that have already incorporated sustainable food products into their daily operations as a way to keep the discussion on banning plastics going.

The announcement of the single-use plastic ban was also well received by free diver Andre Musgrove, who also spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News Online about the futuristic impact the ban will have on the ecological system.

Musgrove said, “It’s a message that needs to be spread as much as possible.”

“As it relates to the ecological system, plastic-filled oceans are a threat to both the animals that live in and the things that benefit from it, us humans. With the increased number of plastics in the ocean, it poses a risk to animals such as the sea turtles, whose natural source of food are jellyfish.

“The sea turtles sometimes mistake the plastic bags that may have been discharged into the ocean, as jellyfish, which result in them biting, eating and potentially choking or drowning to death by ingesting a plastic bag.”

Other examples of harmful plastics are the six-pack rings you may find on a six-pack of soda.

Musgrove emphasized, these ‘rings of death’ – as it’s known by ecologists – in the ocean environment, can potentially wrap themselves around animals necks such as the sea turtle, seals, sharks or other marine animals, and over time cut into their skin or suffocate them.

“The less amount of plastic use on land will benefit and greatly reduce how much of it reaches into your oceans,” the free diver said.

The Bahamas Plastic Movement estimates that if the rate of plastic pollution on beaches increases, it could cause up to $8.5 million in tourism losses annually for the country.

The movement is lobbying for the urgent implementation of laws and swift action to protect its people, environment, and economy.