CREDIT: CREATIVE COMMONS PHOTO BY POLYCART
WASTEFUL: The average life of a plastic bag, from store to garbage bin, is just 10-15 
minutes. But it can take 10-100 years to degrade, or longer.
CREDIT: CREATIVE COMMONS PHOTO BY POLYCART WASTEFUL: The average life of a plastic bag, from store to garbage bin, is just 10-15 minutes. But it can take 10-100 years to degrade, or longer.

The Bermuda Sun has joined a campaign to reduce plastic and paper bag use on the island.

Greenrock launched a petition earlier this year to ask the Government to impose a small mandatory retail charge on single-use bags, to deter their use in stores.

It has attracted almost 370 signatures and the backing of Environment Minister Sylvan Richards.

The Sun has joined other charities and media outlets in backing the campaign.

Sustainability

Glenn Jones, acting general manager of Mediahouse, said: “This idea makes sense for the environment, for our community and for our family-owned company.

“The Bermuda Sun is happy to stand with Greenrock, KBB and all of our neighbours who care deeply about making our island home more sustainable.”

Greenrock is to take the petition to Government’s Sustainable Development Unit as well as the Tourism Department, to request that tourists are provided with reusable bags to promote Bermuda as ‘green destination’.

Anne Hyde, executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, said: “KBB fully supports Greenrock’s campaign.

“KBB is a member of the research collaboration of the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce. We certainly see loads of plastic and paper bags littered across the island.

“’Reduce’ is the first word of the familiar ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’, and the most important first step to take.

“We want to reduce the bag consumption on the island.” 

Greenrock has suggested a 25 cents fee per plastic bag at the point of sale in stores to deter shoppers from using what they see as an environmental hazard.

Environment Minister Mr Richards said that the disincentive of an additional cost would result in islanders making better choices.

He added: “I think it’s a good idea and my thoughts have evolved on this topic. As a country we need to be more environmentally-conscious.

“I thought it was a good idea when the supermarkets brought in the green canvas bag and this is the logical next step in that direction.

“If the public are given a disincentive to use plastic by additional costs they would select another option.

“This is a Greenrock initiative and they are lobbying for it. But I can say that I would support it.”

Mr Richards said Government would look at “all the options” in a bid to reduce pollution in Bermuda.

“The issue is not just plastic, however — we are a very wasteful society,” he added. “As a community we need to give more thought to how we treat our environment. We have to protect it and it is wise to do anything that we can do to enhance that.”

Dr Judith Landsberg, Greenrock president, said: “We have been very interested in public reaction which on the whole is supportive of the idea of finding ways to reduce bag use, even if they don’t always agree with a charge.

“However, we are finding getting people to sign up to the petition rather slow.

“We have two thoughts on that.

“One, that we don’t have much of a budget for publicity so people don’t necessarily know about it, and two, that people are much more reluctant to sign a petition that might have an impact on them personally, rather than, say, something about Tucker’s Point or the Grand Atlantic development.

“Most people advocate education, but if you look at the impact of years of education on recycling,  still less than 25 per cent of households recycle.

“So we don’t believe education by itself will effect the change we need, although of course we continue to educate wherever and whenever possible.”

Dr Landsberg said: “Lightweight plastic or paper grocery bags are convenient but they pollute our land and our oceans, use valuable resources to create them and are a human health hazard.

“Millions of dollars are spent each year manufacturing, importing and then incinerating single-use bags. This is an extreme price to pay — both environmentally and economically — for about 15 minutes of convenience.”

 

To sign the petition go to: www.greenrock.org/news/blog/995-say-no-thanks-to-single-use-bags