While the ban on single-use plastics has been welcomed, a campaigner for marine conservation suggests Barbadians still need to change attitude and behaviour to protect the sea creatures under threat from plastic waste.
Director of public education and awareness at the Barbados Sea Turtle Project Carla Daniel suggested a lifestyle change is necessary if the environment is to reap benefits from the ban.
At a public discussion on the ban of single-use plastics at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Daniel said while the ban was a step in the right direction, Barbadians needed to adopt a new mindset.
Since April 1, the importation, retail, sale and use of petro-based single use plastics has been prohibited.
Daniel said: “People are talking about what are the alternatives… but what we need to change is not the disposable item that we throw underneath the bearded fig tree or that we throw on the beach, but we need to change our culture and we need to change our attitude and out lifestyle.
“We really have two options; we have the other single use items, some of them made out of questionable substances and there are some made out of stainless steel which are reusable options.
“Basically, our choice to my mind, is whether we are going to continue with a disposable lifestyle that continually consumes very valuable resources that we use only for a single moment, or are we going to move towards something more sustainable?
“Really to my mind, it is not necessarily looking at the single use culture and moving from one type of single use product to single use alternatives, but it is really looking at our island and our country.”
She made the comments in response to a concern raised by an audience member about the viability and safety of the alternative materials being used, and queried whether enough research had been done on those alternatives.
The audience member also questioned whether those alternatives were of a good enough quality and whether they presented a health hazard.
At least two other people said they were disappointed at the way in which the ban was implemented.
One woman, who said she was a small business owner, said she was appalled at Government’s “high-handed” approach, in which hefty fines had been proposed for people caught using the banned plastics after the April 1 deadline.