Thursday, April 8, 2010

Think about your plastic bags!

Look closely at this photo. (Click it to make it larger if you need to.) What do you see? The beautiful candy blue waters of the Mediterranean? Look closer. See those dark spots in the water? Those are plastic bags. Disgusting enough that there are folks who care so little about life that they don't mind trashing the planet, but there's more to this photo. That's Lebanese trash on the coast of Cyprus.

How do I know it's from Lebanon? Well, as I was walking these beautiful beaches over the long weekend and came across this horrific sight, my immediate thought was "I bet that's from Lebanon." So I looked. I looked at many of the bags, bags in Arabic, bags in English with the words "Beirut," "Hamra," and "Saida" printed on them.

Boy, if I were a Cypriot, I'd be pretty angry. Maybe I'd be demanding my government to cut relations with this filthy neighboring country whose trash washes upon my shores until they do something about it. Ok, maybe that's a little extreme. But at least I'd be pressuring for the EU to give money to Lebanon for anti-littering campaigns and clean up the garbage dumps campaigns and such.

Where are the Lebanese NGOs working on campaigns to limit plastic bag use? Where is anyone telling people to think about their use of plastic bags? Where are calls for a plastic bag tax? They work! On January 1 of this year, Washington DC instituted a 5 cent plastic bag tax. As a result, according to a March 29th article in the Washington Post:
In its first assessment of how the new law is working, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue estimates that city food and grocery establishments issued about 3.3 million bags in January, which suggests a remarkable decrease. Prior to the bag tax taking effect Jan 1, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer had estimated that about 22.5 million bags were being issued per month in 2009.
That's progress. People bring their own bags to the grocery. When I tried to bring my own cloth bag to supermarket Idriss in Hamra yesterday, some guy at the door tried to take it from me and told me I couldn't bring it into the store. I argued and finally won, but it shouldn't be a battle. It should be normal.

This is 2010. The planet's running in crisis mode. It's time for people to start thinking about the consequences of their actions, even things that seem so trivial like the bags you use to carry your groceries. We need to work on this!

1 comment:

  1. I agree 100%. I am facing the same issue. I have been married for 3 months only and I had collected till now a huge quantity of plastic bags and I don't know what to do with them!! Each time I go to the market, I come back home with 10 plastic bags at least!!
    yes, people in Lebanon should be a bit conscious about this concern, either to bring their own bag with them when shopping or the market should charge some symbolic amount on the bags taken.