The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The natural scenery is awe-inspiring. This loveliness, plus the remarkably mild climate, keeps people coming here and gives residents a wonderful place to live. However, there is no guarantee this Caribbean paradise will remain so attractive unless proactive steps are taken to safeguard this wondrous place. The excerpt taken from the New York Times printed below provides food for thought:

“In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable Drowning in a sea of plastic bags, countries from China to Australia, cities from San Francisco to New York have in the past year adopted a flurry of laws and regulations to address the problem, so far with mixed success. In January almost 42 billion plastic bags were used worldwide, according to reusablebags.com; the figure increases by more than half a million bags every minute. In the past few months, several countries have announced plans to eliminate the bags. Bangladesh and some African nations have sought to ban them because they clog fragile sewerage systems, creating a health hazard. (In Ireland, the) government collects the tax, which finances environmental enforcement and cleanup programs. Furthermore, the environment minister told shopkeepers that if they changed from plastic to paper, he would tax those bags, too. While paper bags, which degrade, are in some ways better for the environment, studies suggest that more greenhouse gases are released in their manufacture and transportation than in the production of plastic bags.”

Anyone traveling around the Federation can see plastic bags and bottles left by the roadside, tangled in bushes, dropped along the beaches and in many other unsightly places. It is not overwhelming – yet – but it is easy to imagine a day in the not-too-distant future when this mess will detract from the natural and man-made sites that make the Federation such a delight to the eye.

Equally important, a growing pile of discarded plastic will harm the environment and could cause health problems.

In many ways, plastic is the best and most convenient material for carrying items, but it is not the best way if it’s used just for the sake of convenience. We should not confuse convenience with progress or good stewardship.

Plastic is not a major problem today and it does not have to become one, if – and that is the key word, “if” – authorities on St. Kitts and Nevis will take steps to curb or prohibit any increase in the use of plastic bags and containers.

This is one cat that never has to get out of the (plastic) bag.