Youth Lead The Way to Plastic Bag Ban in Bahamas

Youth Lead The Way to Plastic Bag Ban in Bahamas Image courtesy of bahamasplasticmovement.org

Youth Group Leading The Way to Change

After a youth group decided to step up and take action, The Bahamas are now about to implement a plastic bag ban. The Minister of Environment and Housing, the Honorable Romauld Ferreira, announced plans to put an end to plastic bag use throughout the country after reviewing a unique proposal from the students.

Grassroots Effort

The notion to reduce the use of plastic bags started with a youth delegation named the Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM). The group of students range in age from 10 to 16 years and they took a serious look at the issue of disposable plastic bags. They gathered data on the use and impact of single-use plastic bags, and eventually with the help of a lawyer, drafted a proposal to regulate the use of plastic bags. The proposal the students put together called for a tax on disposable plastic bags. The intention was to still allow bags but reduce their use.

Change of Plans

BPM submitted their proposal to Ferreira, the Minister of Environment and Housing. Ferreira was in agreement regarding the plastic pollution problem throughout The Bahamas. Ultimately, Ferreira decided to implement a more far-reaching and permanent solution. A plastic bag ban will go into effect to reduce ugly and harmful litter. Additionally, other disposable plastic items, including products made from polystyrene, will also be banned.

Impact on the Environment

The durability that makes single-use plastic bags convenient for carrying goods home from the store also make them an environmental nuisance. Plastic does not safely breakdown. When discarded plastic bags become stuck in trees or shrubs or float in bodies of water. This litter is harmful to animals and their habitats. Given enough time and exposure to the elements, plastic will break apart into smaller pieces of plastic. This makes the material potentially more dangerous because it is easier for animals to ingest the tiny pieces and introduce plastic into the food chain.

Impact on the Economy

Plastic bag litter poses many serious problems. Possibly the most serious problem for the Bahamas is litter. Plastic bag litter is an eyesore. This island nation pulls in about $8.5 million (U.S.) annually in tourism. Trash on beaches mars the natural beauty and may turn tourists off from visiting the islands. Tourism is a major industry across the entire Caribbean, so if visitors skip the Bahamas due to messy beaches there are other islands they can visit. The Bahamas’ loss will be the gain of other countries.

Plastic Bag Ban Movement Spreads Throughout Caribbean

The Bahamas are also not the first in the Caribbean to implement a plastic bag ban or take steps to reduce the resulting litter. The U.S. Virgin Islands, Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda all have their own version of a plastic bag ban in place. In June 2017 participating retailers in Barbados implemented a voluntary plastic bag fee in an effort to reduce litter. Dominica is considering a Styrofoam ban.

Learn About the Movement

Plastic bag bans are becoming more common in the Caribbean and the entire world. Learn more about the plastic bag ban movement by checking out our map. This interactive map highlights the efforts to pass plastic bag bans and fees throughout the world. From small towns to entire countries people across the globe are interested in doing their part to reduce plastic litter. Find out what your business can do to help reduce plastic bag litter and support the communities with plastic bag bans in place.

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