How do I know it's from Lebanon? Well, as I was walking these beautiful beaches over the long weekend and came across this horrific sight, my immediate thought was "I bet that's from Lebanon." So I looked. I looked at many of the bags, bags in Arabic, bags in English with the words "Beirut," "Hamra," and "Saida" printed on them.
Boy, if I were a Cypriot, I'd be pretty angry. Maybe I'd be demanding my government to cut relations with this filthy neighboring country whose trash washes upon my shores until they do something about it. Ok, maybe that's a little extreme. But at least I'd be pressuring for the EU to give money to Lebanon for anti-littering campaigns and clean up the garbage dumps campaigns and such.
Where are the Lebanese NGOs working on campaigns to limit plastic bag use? Where is anyone telling people to think about their use of plastic bags? Where are calls for a plastic bag tax? They work! On January 1 of this year, Washington DC instituted a 5 cent plastic bag tax. As a result, according to a March 29th article in the Washington Post:
In its first assessment of how the new law is working, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue estimates that city food and grocery establishments issued about 3.3 million bags in January, which suggests a remarkable decrease. Prior to the bag tax taking effect Jan 1, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer had estimated that about 22.5 million bags were being issued per month in 2009.That's progress. People bring their own bags to the grocery. When I tried to bring my own cloth bag to supermarket Idriss in Hamra yesterday, some guy at the door tried to take it from me and told me I couldn't bring it into the store. I argued and finally won, but it shouldn't be a battle. It should be normal.
This is 2010. The planet's running in crisis mode. It's time for people to start thinking about the consequences of their actions, even things that seem so trivial like the bags you use to carry your groceries. We need to work on this!