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First, Refuse and Reduce


First, Refuse and Reduce

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The ban on the distribution, sale and use of specific petro-based single use plastic was implemented three days ago on Monday July 1, 2019 in Barbados. So what’s next?

From the first day of January, 2020 no person shall import or manufacture any petro-based plastic bag. (See the Control of Disposables Act, 2019 for more information including the list of exemptions.) Become familiar with the Act and what is allowed. If there is an area that is confusing, ask a question.

Do not wait until the last week in December to try and get rid of existing stock. More than enough time has been given and it is strongly recommended that businesses which use and distribute plastic bags start to get rid of these items from now. 

Our country is on a journey towards sustainable development with the ban being one of the first and most crucial steps. How can we as individuals become more responsible and conscious consumers? 

Many of us may have learnt about the 3R’s in school – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. However, in recent times, more R’s have been added into the mix. Instead, some people now speak of: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Regenerate, Recycle in that order and yes the order matters – the closer to the start, the better. You may also see and hear of some other R’s:  Recover/Repurpose/Repair/Rethink and Rot (compost). Regardless of which R’s you use, the most important ones to do are refuse and reduce.  

Refuse:  We live in a consumerism, throw away society thriving on convenience. Our lives are full of stuff that we don’t need. Do you really need your box juice wrapped in a plastic bag in another plastic bag that has a lifespan of less than 15 minutes but can stay around forever? Next time, say no thanks, I don’t need a bag.

Reduce. You’ve just gone on a shopping trip and put 10 shirts in the cart. It’s time to rethink this – do you really need 10 shirts? Start to reduce what you buy. 

Reuse: Have you ever had a small rip in a piece of clothing and discarded it? Next time, see if it can be fixed by a simple sew or if it’s that bad, can your pants be used for cleaning or to make a bag for example? Give something another life before discarding or give it to someone else that may have a use for it. 

Do you buy take away coffee every morning? If so, take your own coffee cup. The best alternative is choosing reusable where possible. Choose to refuse and Ditch Disposable! Multi use over single use! In the long run, both you and the business can save money. 

Regenerate: Making dinner tonight and have left over vegetable scraps? Why not try placing them in a compost which will then be able to be used to put on your plants?

Recycle: Now what about the case of beer from last weekend? Recycle what can be recycled. We need to Sort it out! By practicing sorting at source coupled with curbside collection as well as stronger fines for littering, a revamped anti-dumping campaign that includes cracking down on illegal dumping, we will be well on our way in the journey towards a sustainable future. 

My challenge to you this week is to look at every part of your daily lifestyle from the time that you wake up until you go to sleep and to make a note of one area that you can make a change.

Can you swap from a plastic to a bamboo toothbrush?  Or will you turn off the tap when cleaning your teeth? Or how about trying to reduce your meat consumption? Or take your reusable bag to the supermarket or try to compost food scraps? Or how about look in the garbage bins in your house?

Take a note of anything that you didn’t need to buy or that can be used again or composted.  Regardless of which challenge you choose, focus on that one and do it well. I am four days into the Plastic Free July challenge and I have decided to keep all of the single use plastic that I use for the month so that I can see where I can reduce my use. 

Our choices matter – it starts with me and it starts with you.  We have the power to create a wave of change. By making a small change, you will have a big impact.  

Here are 5 Simple swaps from the Crate Barbados that will help you to lead a more sustainable lifestyle and will help you on your journey to conscious consumerism. 











July 1 has come and gone. The ban has now been in effect for three days. Have you seen any changes? Have you noticed that some of your food is coming in different packaging? Wish some more tips on the challenge this week or to simply share your progress, let us know below or email me any questions or comments at [email protected]

Check back in next week where I will be chatting about Plastic Free Feteing: Your Guide to a more Conscious Crop Over.

Nikola Simpson is a marine biologist that uses her voice to speak for the ocean. She is passionate about raising awareness on ocean conservation such as the impacts of plastic pollution and how we as individuals can make small changes that create a big positive impact towards an environmentally sustainable and conscious Caribbean. 

She is the founder of Sustainable Caribbean where she offers a range of sustainability consulting services and the Crate Barbados, the Caribbean’s first one stop eco shop. 


Email: [email protected]

Social: @sustainablecaribbean @thecratebarbados on IG and FB