For years supermarkets in Panama have been flooding the country with plastic bags. The practice in the past has been to have bag boys at the front end stuffing your groceries in plastic bags when you pay the bill at the cash box. This means that in a month, thousands of plastic bags are reaching Panama homes.
What most people do with these plastic bags is to use them as garbage bags for the garbage collectors to pick up during the week. Other bags are left behind at beaches, lakes, rivers, parks, streets and other places where irresponsible people litter. The result is a nationwide pollution of plastic bags that are adversely affecting marine animal life.
It is a known fact that plastic bags photodegrade: Over time they break down into smaller, more toxic petro-polymers which eventually contaminate soils and waterways. As a consequence, microscopic particles can enter the food chain. The effect on wildlife can be catastrophic. Nearly 200 different species of sea life including whales, dolphins, seals and turtles die due to plastic bags. They die after ingesting plastic bags which they mistake for food
Data released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency shows that somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. We have to do something to ban plastic bags to protect our environment and wildlife.
Yesterday evening, I went to El Machetazo Supermarket to buy some stuff and was surprised to see an attractive spot at the entrance promoting a Green February. El Machetazo is joining other supermarkets in introducing plastic bags that will biodegrade or decompose within a period of one year. It’s not exactly what we want but it’s a step in the right direction.
This is what I saw yesterday evening while visiting El Machetazo at San Miguelito:
A green display promoting a new biodegradable plastic bag at El Machetazo supermarket in San Miguelito.
A closer view of the new degradable plastic bag displayed at El Machetazo supermarket in San Miguelito.
Another supermarket or wholesale warehouse which is also cooperating in the banning of plastic bags is PriceSmart. Recently I received an e-mail from them announcing that starting March 2nd they will stop providing plastic bags at their sites. Instead they are encouraging their customers to buy cloth bags at a very cheap price. The Blue Bags come in a 4-pack for $3.49, which makes the cost of each bag approximately $0.87. Next time every time you go to PriceSmart, you should bring your own cloth bags. This is exactly what we want!
If we use a cloth bag, we can save 6 bags a week. That’s equivalent to 24 bags a month or 288 bags a year. That’s 22,176 bags in an average life time. If just 1 out of 5 people in our country did this, we would save 640,000 bags over our life time. Quite a lot isn’t it?
Many countries are taking steps to ban the plastic bag, (i.e., Bangladesh, China Ireland and Rwanda). Israel, Canada, western India, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Taiwan, and Singapore have also banned or are moving toward banning the plastic bag.
I’m glad that Panama is starting to act in reducing the free distribution of plastic bags. A big round of applause for El Machetazo and PriceSmart who are leading the Green Cause in Panama. Good Day.
Related PowerPoint Presentation: The Danger of Plastic Bags
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