2019 starts with some great news from the Bay Islands. Roatan bans plastic bags and straws! This is the first municipality in Honduras that takes this critical step to protect the environment. Honduras has already been declared the country that has the best-preserved reefs in the Caribbean. The reefs around the Bay Islands are some of the healthiest reefs in the World. This according to the Healthy Reef Report Card. But that does not mean they are not threatened! The biggest dangers come from trash and climate change. While there is little that the community in Roatan can do against climate change, they certainly can do much regarding trash!
Although I have not yet red the actual ordinance prohibiting plastic bags, I am afraid that it has some shortcomings. First of all, from what I have found out, it relates to plastic bags and plastic straws on the beach. This means that there will still be plastic bags and plastic straws on the island. Unfortunately, they are sure to find their way to the beaches and the Caribbean Sea and therefore, the barrier reef. Second, one of the largest plastic pollutants on the beach are the plastic bottles. These are used for water and sodas.
Beach front restaurants and bars usually serve beer and sodas in glass bottles. As a rule, products in returnable glass bottles are less expensive than those in disposable containers. As such, most beach front bars and restaurants will find it easy to comply with the ordinance. All they will need to do is to stop providing plastic straws to their patrons. As for water, I hope they use the large 5-gallon water jugs to serve purified water on premises. If you as tourist or beach goer needs water, take a refillable container and replenish it at the local bars and restaurants.
Yes, I aware that you can recycle plastic bottles, but it still represents a problem on the island. There are no recycling plants on the island. This means that all the plastic bottles and aluminum cans must be packed and shipped to the mainland for proper recycling. There is no doubt that plastic bags are convenient. The problem is that they are also pollutant!
The only real solution to this is that we all pitch in and change our shopping habits. We need to get into the habit of carrying our cloth shopping bags when we visit the supermarket. The supermarkets need to offer cloth shopping bags and stop giving plastic bags to their patrons. Perhaps if there is a charge for each bag, people will remember to bring their shopping bags with them. Above all, help us enforce the ordinance. It is great the Roatan bans plastic bags and straws from the beach!