By María José Brenes
Looking back we talk about the era of bronze, iron, stone, and in 100 years this is going to be the era of plastic. "By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish"
Eliminating the use of plastic bags in grocery stores is the first step in helping to heal the oceans, as each person consumes about 360 bags a year and most of them end up in rivers, seas or beaches, said the American activist Stuart Coleman.
In an interview with Efe, Coleman, coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches, affirmed that the campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags is effective because it starts at the individual level until it spreads to a national level.
“Reducing plastic bags is a first step, it is something great that can be started with just one person, a family, a group of friends. Each of these people represents 360 plastic bags less per year in the environment, ”explained the American.
The activist described plastic as a "modern invention" that is everywhere, it is consumed in 15 minutes and then discarded to remain in the environment for decades, hence the importance of changing people's mentality to use bags or reusable bottles.
Coleman was in Costa Rica as a special guest of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to promote sustainable actions within the framework of World Environment Day, which was celebrated on June 5.
Hawaii, UNEP's first experience
The American led the initiative to make Hawaii the first state in the United States to completely ban bags from grocery stores.
The experience in Hawaii has been successful and some exceptions have been made such as the use of bags for vegetables, for laundry or bags for garbage.
For the activist, this initiative can make a difference, since changing the way of recycling in different countries can be more complicated due to the need for public policies and because reducing the use of plastic bags begins with the decision of each person.
According to Coleman, the amount of pollution due to plastic bags affects tourists, the environment, marine life, the economy, as well as human health.
The chain: plastic-fish-toxic-food-man
"Plastic does not degrade naturally, but it breaks into parts and that makes the fish able to eat pieces of plastic, that means that when that animal is caught, it has a lot of toxins and chemicals that we will end up consuming. us ”, he specified.
Plastic particles are sometimes so small and occupy such vast areas that many species of fish mistake them for plankton.
“When we look back we talk about the era of bronze, iron, stone and in 100 years this will be the era of plastic, which will cover everything. Between now and 2050 there will be more plastic than fish, ”said the American.
Costa Rica: biodiversity and some challenge
Coleman added that Costa Rica, a country recognized worldwide for its biodiversity, has made very good progress in protecting the environment, however, it has many challenges to meet since in its waters you can see materials such as ice cream boxes, bottles, caps and glass.
"Costa Rica is a country with the ability to eliminate plastic bags in supermarkets and make a difference as they have done previously with renewable energy and other areas in which they have been leaders," he said.
The activist added that "Hawaii, like Costa Rica, is a very popular destination for tourists and it is important that they see a clean city, not full of plastic bags in rivers and seas."
The American indicated that to raise awareness, it should be remembered that plastic bags or other objects made of that material end up in the oceans and both the Government, NGOs, civil society and private companies should generate actions that support initiatives that are healthy for the environment.
For Coleman, in addition to the typical 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), "reject" any type of plastic and "redesign" the products should be added so as not to continue creating objects of this material.
In 1997, oceanographer Charles Moore discovered the so-called "great Pacific garbage patch", the first of its kind, which is composed mainly of plastic material and mud, currently measures about 700,000 square kilometers and extends between the Californian coast, surrounds Hawaii and reaches Japan.