On Tuesday, Belize made the announcement that it would phase out all single-use plastic products including shopping bags, utensils, and straws by April 22, 2019- which coincides with Earth Day.
The decision reaffirms Belize’s goal to protect their tropical waters and keep pollution out of the ocean. In 2017, Belize announced that it would end all offshore oil drilling.
Plastic pollution has started to steal headlines more than ever in the last year. Research has started to divulge how dangerous plastic has become to the ocean and marine life. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in our ocean while The Ocean Cleanup just completely a study finding that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 16 times larger than originally believed. As well another study discovered that the amount of plastic in our oceans will triple from 2015 to 2025.
In Belize, plastic litters their beaches like most countries. Plastic is washed ashore by the growing island of floating trash that sits in the Caribbean Sea.
More countries have started to implement bans on plastic, with Taiwan being the most recent prior to Belize’s new ban. With more countries starting to get on board banning single-use plastics, the United States government has been completely stagnant outside of a few local decisions made by cities.
The decisions made by the United States have been completely disappointing in the fight to protect the environment. Nine of the 50 states have actually implemented bans on banning single-use plastics. Often the argument for these ban-on-bans is that plastic is a “liberal problem” or a ban on plastic items takes away the ability of the people to make their own decisions.
It is clear that more needs to be done to reduce plastic pollution and we applaud Belize for taking the tremendous steps to protect our oceans in such a short time. Given that, it is time for the people to step up to reduce plastic pollution if their governments will not do anything to help.