One of the good things that happened in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years was the introduction of the plastic bag levy. For those who don't know what that is ten years ago last month the Irish government introduced a 15c (later raised to 22c) levy on all disposable plastic bags, almost overnight those ubiquitous scraps of plastic pretty much disappeared from life in Ireland.
Both before and after the introduction of the levy my work took me all around the countryside of Ireland and it was phenomenal the change that simple levy made. In my memeory most trees and bushes had sad scraps of plastic dragging in the wind, after the levy they disappeared.
The reason that this is in my mind is twofold.
Firstly we were recently at a turtle refuge here on Réunion and saw how much plastic gets ingested by sea creatures, as a soft greenie it upset me no end.
Secondly because I was passing through Conakry (the capital city of Guinea) a little while ago and a collegue and I took some time to go for an amble about the neighbourhood where the Golder office is based. The neighbourhood includes a beach where we walked and came across part of the beach strewn with sand filled plastic bags.
|Sand filled plastic bags on the beach|
|Because the bags are filled with sand they aren't going anywhere|
|A part of the beach that gets cleaned up (the photo was taken from a beachside bar, the life of an itinerant geologist can be tough)|
Now this isnt a rant about Guinea or the people, they have enough problems and don't have the wherewithall to have city workers down cleaning their beaches. But rather a comment on what a lot of other beaches in wealther parts of the world would be like if they weren't maintained and cleaned by local authorities. We generally don't see the problem because somebody else is cleaning up our mess.
Yet it such an easy problem to address, make people pay for their plastic bags and suddenly they realise they don't seem to need them so much.
So basically what I'm trying to say is that I really hate plastic bags! Right, rant over.