Plastic Bags and Health in Jamaica

Each year in Jamaica, an individual uses over 300 plastic bags made of black polyurethane.

Since people of the island tend to burn their waste, the fumes from the plastic releases toxic hydrogen cyanide into the environment which will eventually re-enter the food chain.

Several health and environment risks arise from the production of plastic bags since it leads to large amounts of another harmful gas, carbon dioxide.

When bags are left alone in the environment, they block waterways and give rise to various diseases. Plastic bags can be the breeding ground for insects which increases the risk of disease such as Dengue fever. Plastic decays over hundreds of years and until then they remain environmental hazards for marine life.

Approximately 100,000 marine creatures perish every year from plastic entanglement. The European Commission continues to campaign against the use of plastic and other countries such as Ireland are resorting to taxation to curtail the use of plastic bags.

Thanks to the ingenuity of a group of women in Jamaica, some of the island’s plastic bags are now being recycled and turned into various items. Women are now making bags using the discarded plastic bags as they crochet them into intricate patterns.

They then sell these bags for $15 to $25 each to visiting tourists. These Jamaican women work in a remote area of the island and are able to make a livelihood while creating a useful product that is beneficial to everyone.

Thousands of bags that end up littering the streets supply these women with the possibility of paying their bills.

Several Jamaican people are now more aware about wasting plastic bags and collect them for friends who use it for crocheting. These entrepreneurial women have found a solution to the plastic bag infestation for their community, which only gives the rest of us a hopeful expectation for the global plastic predicament.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: NPR, DW.DE Pollution, DW.DE, Ocean Crusaders
Photo: Deutsche Welle