This is the last straw! Government officials call for a more stringent approach to tackle the epidemic issue of waste management that has been plaguing the Jamaican economy. Unequivocally, for years, Jamaicans have developed a love for these black multifaceted carry around bags, affectionately known as the “scandal bag”.  However, as of January 1st of this year, the government placed a ban on the distribution, importation, and manufacturing of single-use plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene. With the hopes of reducing the negative impact of waste on the environment as well as adopting a culture where people feel obligated to be more environmentally conscious.   

These black scandal bags have now been replaced with a more feasible alternative. This move has bolstered and led to new locally owned and operated businesses to rise such as Eco-Tings Jamaica and Those Creative People (TCP). Both of these companies pride themselves on the transformative effects of eliminating unnecessary materials that would cause further harm to the country’s proceeding issues with waste management.

From vibrant metal straws to polypropylene bags with quirky messages, the wide variety of choices allows everyone to find their preference. Businesses like Eco-Tings and TCP have been ahead of the going green phenomenon and started their companies several months before the recent ban. Eco-Tings founder, Sameel Somo Johnson, said he was inspired by the ecological practices witnessed while traveling to different countries in Latin America and decided to begin his venture before the ban in November of 2018.

TCP founder, Marc Gayle, also started in November of 2018 due to his awareness of the dangers of plastic and looking for a safer and trendier substitute. Now, across the island, there is noticeable evidence that shows that more and more Jamaicans and companies are complying with the use of eco-friendly materials.

Although the recent transition from plastic to alternatives may be an adjustment, the benefits it reaps make the investment profitable. One of the main concerns with plastic is that it is not a biodegradable material, constantly resulting in its disposal which then leads to a built-up in our landfills and being ingested by wildlife. Removal of plastic ultimately forces the purchasing of higher quality products like reusable metal or bamboo straws, wooden or ceramic eating utensils, and stainless steel cups all at an affordable cost.

Other countries such as Barbados have taken on a similar approach, just recently they introduced a ban on all plastic and styrofoam products in April of this year. While Grenada has started their removal as early as September of last year.

Jamaica’s plans to further progress the nation’s environmental growth is not being limited by eliminating harmful materials but to the conservation of energy and reducing its carbon footprint. The vision 2030 Jamaica policy has seven goals, one that includes placing Jamaica as the leading island for conservation, efficiency, and sustainability. The continuous effort of our neighboring countries’ dedication to the safety, health,  and overall betterment of the Caribbean has influenced a positive change in the islands to take on the baton of maintaining and promising a future that is healthy for its upcoming generations.

We are anticipating the alternative industries that will come out of the styrofoam ban at the end of the year.

Andre Cooper