Don’t count on using a plastic straw in your drink while in Dominica. This small Caribbean island has taken a big step to reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans. As of January 1st, 2019, certain one-use plastic and styrofoam containers are banned from the Caribbean paradise island for good.
In an effort to reduce the amount of trash accumulating on Dominica’s beaches and in the surrounding waters, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced the changes in June 2018. In a a budget address, he said, “Dominica prides itself as the “Nature Isle”. We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation.”
He went on to say that banning products that easily pollute the island would be a step toward rebuilding and resetting “our society and economy”, and would “protect our environment in order to achieve a new, more resilient Dominica.”
Fighting ocean pollution
Ocean pollution in the Caribbean has become a serious issue. Plastic trash can float in the ocean for hundreds of years before decomposing. Unfortunately, this means that it’s incredibly hard to get rid of. Some parts of the Caribbean Sea are so clogged with trash, you can hardly see the water underneath. The rubbish has already caused devastating damage to sea life, the environment, and tourism.
Dominica in particular has seen its share of trash. Large amounts of it washed up on the island in 2017, thanks to the heavy hurricane season. The plastic bottle and styrofoam “decor” completely ruined Dominica’s gorgeous shoreline. So, the government decided to take drastic measures.
Many companies, such as Disney and Starbucks, have already banned plastic straws. Some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, are phasing out plastic bags. Several U.S. states are doing the same. However, Dominica is taking things a step further.
As of this year, the country’s inhabitants will no longer be able to use plastic straws, plates, and utensils. Styrofoam cups and containers will also disappear.
Careen Prevost, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for the Environment, announced that there would also be a reduction in taxes, or 0 percent taxes on biodegradable alternatives to use of plastics in the food service.
“Also an application of 0% duty on reusable shopping bags, and that we believe is a step in the right direction, which will assist in reducing the cost of the biodegradable alternatives,” she said.
National Geographic has describe the plan as one the world’s most comprehensive plastic bans.
Dominica: A small island with big plans
Banning one-use plastic and styrofoam isn’t the only environmentally-friendly trick up this tiny nation’s sleeve. The island also began a “Housing Revolution” initiative in 2018. This program builds new homes that can withstand most weather events. The Citizenship by Investment Program of Dominica will fund the program.
In addition, Dominica is using the same program to provide most of its population with geothermal energy, This is part of Prime Minister Roosevelt’s plans to make Dominica the “world’s first climate resilient nation”.
Main image source: Susan White/USFWS
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