At the end of August, a team from Thalias joined the Clean City initiative in Siem Reap and clearing up the historic quarter along the riverside in Phnom Penh. The pressure is growing worldwide to reduce plastic use, especially in its most easily avoidable form: single use plastic bags and bottles. Kenya has recently joined the growing list of countries that have banned or restricted single use plastic bags, now counting more than 40, including China, France, Rwanda and Italy.
Every single step on this path is vital as it becomes increasingly clear that the consequences of failing to rein in plastic are deadly, especially for marine life. It is thought that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the seas than fish. And that is not just terrible for fish, it is just as bad for everything that depend on fish for nutrition, including us. Last year, a study of fish caught in the UK found that one third had consumed plastics, whose chemicals will leach into their systems.
Kenya is certainly taking the problem seriously. Under the new law, the penalties for producing, selling or using plastic bags are up to four years in jail or fines of $40,000. A report published in July this year found that humans have dumped more than eight billion tonnes of plastic in landfills, the oceans and scattered across our landscapes since the 1950s. And this waste — equivalent to one billion elephants — will last for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. If it were spread out one inch thick, you would need 400 Cambodias to spread it out on.
But no one is too small to play a part in addressing the problem. At Thalias we’ve phasing out our plastic use for some time now, and continue in our efforts every day.