By John Denny

Observer Reporter

(Charlestown, Nevis) – In an effort to reduce litter and embrace green thinking, the Nevis Island Administration’s Solid Waste Management is continuing its quest to replace plastic shopping bags with reusable bags.

“We have a couple of new samples that are very affordable,” said Solid Waste General Manager Carlyn Lawrence. “We have started soliciting for sponsors that would possibly pay for, or help pay for the bags. In return, they could have their name printed on the side.”

The reusable bags cost a little over US$1 delivered.

That would be the price “if we order 20,000 bags, which would be about five per household,” she said.

Nearly one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide every year. Less that one percent is recycled because it costs much more to recycle the polyethylene than it costs to produce it new. Most of the bags end up in the ocean where they continue to break down into smaller, more toxic chemicals called petro-polymers. These toxic substances enter the food chain causing untold damage to marine ecosystems.

A number of countries are in the process of banning or reducing plastic shopping bags.

Bangladesh and Rwanda, both Third World countries have banned bags. Israel, West India, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Taiwan and Singapore are all moving towards banning plastic shopping bags. Ireland started taxing the bags and as a result has reduced consumption by 90 percent. China has started charging for plastic bags and the effort will save that country 37 million barrels of oil per year.

On Nevis, Ms. Lawrence is trying to introduce curriculum in some schools to educate children on the positive aspects of reducing plastic bag use and eliminating litter.