Plastic pollution

A replica of the bag used by shoppers at Meridian Store in Wairiki, Taveuni. Picture: SUPPLIED

THE decision by the Meridian Store on Taveuni to ban the use of plastic bags in their shop to protect the environment is worth talking about. Shop owner Champak Lal said they ordered 2000 biodegradable bags for their customers. Mr Lal said they were proud to be setting the trend for shoppers in the country. It was time for a change, he said. Mr Lal said since initiating the project in December last year, people took the bags which were free and failed to reuse them during their next shopping trip. He believes it will take some time for the initiative to be accepted and appreciated. He believes there is a need for awareness about the effect of plastics on our environment. He noted there was a “different approach from expatriates who understand the objectives of the initiative and appreciate it”. Attitudes, he said, would only change once people were aware of the effects of plastics on their ecosystem. Mr Lal said with the little they were doing, people were starting to query about the change. There is no doubt about the fact that plastic waste is a huge problem. Plastics are part of our daily lives. They have actually added convenience to our lives. However, they have also pushed up negative issues. Plastic pollution is a fact of life. It is everywhere. You can see it in the sea surrounding our islands, on our beachfronts, to mangroves, and river banks. You can see it in plots of land where people indiscriminately dump them. They have cut into the lives of various marine creatures and pollute our streets and urban centres. Plastic pollution isn’t going anywhere else any time soon either. The challenge is on how we control this. How do we put a stop to plastic pollution? Many initiatives have been raised. Many people continue to take the lead role in the fight against plastic pollution. They will, however, continue to hit a brick wall because there are still selfish people who will shrug aside common sense, and concern for the negative impact of plastic pollution on our environment and our lives. We should take our hats off for people such as Mr Lal and his team for their initiative. The toughest aspect of their fight is staying motivated enough to continue. Now that certainly isn’t easy. We should all be part of this good fight.