There’s a lot of discussion going on these days about climate change and a ton hand wringing about what can be done and how, but genuine action on the part of global leaders is sparser than many people would like.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there willing to make a difference no matter what it takes, and that can be seen in an initiative by the country of Belize to ban plastic altogether.
It’s both a reminder that global powers will need to take a front and center role if we want to reverse climate change and an inside look in how difficult it can be to enact such massive change.
It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Belize is one of the countries leading the charge.
Positioned as it is along the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize (and our tourism industry) directly feels the impact that single-use plastics have on our marine life.
It’s little surprise, then that Ambergris Caye (which relies on the reef for much of its tourism industry) is enthusiastic about the new change. This removal of single-use plastics will include plastic bottles, utensils, and bags, and in doing so could set a blueprint that other countries can follow.
And despite the scope of this new decision, the impetus is fairly recent. The Cabinet decided on the ban in March of 2018, and the ban went into effect in April of 2019.
But what does it look like on the ground? While the specifics will probably evolve over time, Belize seems to have some good fundamentals in place.
A dedicated task force has already been formed to deal with the issue, and they’ve settled on multiple points that can be used to more rapidly phase out single-use plastics.
While the most obvious and important objective involves regulations on the distribution, sale, and production of single-use plastics, the goal is to change attitudes on plastic use rather than simply rely on a standard of punishment. That means increased promotion of alternatives to plastic and initiatives designed to engender civic pride in businesses and citizens.
And by delving deep into the data on single-use plastics and tracking the transition away from plastics over time, Belize will be better equipped to monitor how the changes are being adopted over time.
A single Caribbean country adopting new standards for plastics use may seem like a relatively minor move towards ecological responsibility, but its impact could be far bigger. That’s because the process is so tight and comprehensive.
While the implementation of this policy is still in its early stages, there are some serious signs that Belize’s strategy could set standards for how to implement more sweeping environmental regulations throughout the world.
While other countries may be able to put the environment on the back burner (for now at least), Belize is feeling the impact directly, and we‘re ready to do something about it.