Pabien On Plastic Bag Ban Aruba!

“Pabien” is Papiamento for congratulations in Aruba’s local language. And a BIG one is in order now because this happy little island will be even happier, environmentally speaking, as the government has voted to effectively ban all plastic bags as of January 1, 2017.

Why such an extreme move on an island that depends so much on tourism dollars and encourages vacation shopping to help fuel its economy? One would think that the convenience to shoppers would outweigh the concern. But no, not this island. And that’s the point.

Aruba is an island – a very small island – and that makes it difficult to efficiently dispose of trash. For materials that don’t break down, there is limited access to recycling facilities. So even best efforts have plastic bags ending up on the beaches and in the oceans. Considering that Aruba goes through some 30 million plastic bags per year – that’s a huge problem for a little island.

Of course, it’s no secret that marine life is badly harmed by plastic bags, especially sea turtles that mistake them for their favorite snack of jellyfish! But plastic bags are harmful to the humans too. When marine life consumes the chemicals used to make plastic and we eat that seafood and fish, it has been proven to adversely affect our hormonal health. Not to mention, the chemicals are toxic!

If you think the convenience of having a plastic bag when you make a purchase is free, think again. It costs around five cents per bag for the retailer, which typically ends up tacked on to the costs of the items. Considering the average useful lifespan of a plastic bag has been calculated at around 10 minutes, and their energy intensive production contributes to climate change in a big way, that cost is way too high. So good move Aruba, this is a much-needed change.

Senator Donald Rasmijn, Omar Harms, and Juliet D. Carvalhal led the proposal for the ban, and it passed easily. The program will begin rollout ahead of the new year with information, education, and positivity.

Juliet D. Carvalhal, Special Coordinator Green Agenda for the government of Aruba, says: “The logo of Aruba’s national campaign and educational platform includes an image of one happy turtle with the tagline and call-to-action 'My Bag Is Reusable' in Papiamento. With the overwhelmingly positive response thus far within the community, we can be optimistic that this important project will be well received by all. Locals and tourists alike.”

Though there will be plenty of businesses creating reusable bags for customers, and they make great keepsakes, visitors can also bring their own reusable bags for added convenience. Soft nylon backpacks are also a great way to carry things around, and they take very little space in your luggage. So remember this when packing for your holiday.

As part of an ongoing plan to make Aruba the greenest island in the Caribbean by 2020, the plastic bag ban fits nicely into today’s more eco-conscious lifestyle. Before you know it, plastic bags will be a thing of the past as the United Nations Environmental Programme Secretariat has recommended a ban on all plastic bags globally.  And that’s great news for future generations. Hopefully the issue with plastic straws at beach bars and Styrofoam containers for take-out will be addressed next.

Let’s all work together to make Aruba a plastic-free paradise. Pabien!

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