Plastic waste is flooding our planet. Every year, we produce 300 million tons of plastic and 78 percent of it is not recycled! It takes hundreds of years for plastic to break down into smaller pieces, as it is not biodegradable, but even then it is never entirely gone. Around 8.8 million tons of the plastic ends up in the oceans where it is a huge threat to some 700 species of marine animals who are in constant danger of ingesting the waste, getting tangled in it, and being exposed to highly polluted waters. Sadly, we’ve created this massive problem – now we have to come up with a solution and fight for the sake of the planet, the animals, and ourselves.
Many people are taking action and creating innovative alternatives to plastic. On top of that, we’ve seen many governments step in and impose taxes that hinder the proliferation of plastic products – or implement all out bans on disposable plastics.
Recently, Kenya moved to completely ban manufacturing and importing plastic bags. The order, given by the country’s Environment Minister Judi W. Wakhungu, was published in a notice dated February 28, 2017, that was just released to the public. It will go into effect six months from now and hopefully, shortly thereafter, the use of plastic bags for both commercial and household packaging alike will be a thing of the past. (Or so we can dream.)
As reported by the United Nations Environmental Programme, about 100 million plastic bags are now distributed every year in Kenya – and that’s only from supermarkets. That makes plastic bags the biggest challenge when it comes to waste disposal in the country, especially in the most impoverished communities.
Kenya is by no means the first African country to ban plastic bags. According to the Washington Post, similar prohibitions were introduced in Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania, and Malawi, and hopefully, many more countries in the world are to follow the example.
Although they may seem small, our personal choices and actions matter tremendously. You can help keep plastic out of the oceans by limiting your use of this material every day. To learn more about how you can start, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
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