Plastic Free July and the importance of recycling in Jamaica

It’s Plastic Free July. This is a global initiative founded by the Plastic Free Foundation back in 2011, to rid the world of plastic waste.

In our own lives, we are trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use. You know, the old “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra. This is hard. We have taken some steps: we now use wooden toothbrushes and shampoo bars and regular soap, in the bathroom, instead of picking up yet another plastic bottle in the supermarket. That’s a small gesture as a consumer, but I wish there was more we could do, and there probably is. That’s the “reduce” part. We also reuse plastic that we know cannot be recycled if we throw it away – in particular packaging of all kinds. I get angry when I see a few vegetables “packaged” quite unnecessarily in supermarkets, on a styrofoam plate covered in plastic wrap. Why?

We have to start bending our minds towards solutions, large and small, that actually work in our own lives. Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), with its Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica campaign, started the discussion and raised awareness. But there is so much more to be done. Annual Coastal Cleanup Day events have brought in thousands of volunteers, including a major private sector and neighborhood component, and have spawned a number of smaller cleanups around the country, throughout the year. Both JET and Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) get regular requests for support for these efforts, which also have the bonus of bringing communities together. And we know that plastic bottles and bottle caps feature heavily in the types of items collected.

Dr. Damien King (left), Chairman, Recycling Partners of Jamaica, with Dr. Carey Wallace, Executive Director, Tourism Enhancement Fund, at the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup Day. Both organizations were sponsors. (My photo)

Yes, people complain – cleanups and recycling are not proactive. They are cleaning up the mess we have already made. However, don’t knock them. As we engage in these activities, we are learning, understanding, coming to grips with the huge problem of plastic. Out of that should come renewed efforts to reduce plastic at its source, to educate and to teach others to change their behaviors. There are the gullies, the informal dumps, the tossing plastic out of car windows so that they line the roadsides. How and why is this happening, and how can we prevent it? There are no easy answers. Nevertheless, we need to take action meanwhile.

Be that as it may, thousands of organizations around the world, including Recycling Partners of Jamaica, use the month of July to honor Plastic Free July, and encourage persons to remove plastic waste from the environment and practice responsible ways of disposing plastics. To quote RPJ (and please click on the YouTube link for the excellent TV ad with an animated Agent Sasco – he’s a deejay. Grand job!)

RPJ provides receptacles for the proper disposal of PET (Type 1) and HDPE (Type 2) plastics – recycling – across the country. These are branded cages with the instructions to BAG IT, BRING IT, BIN IT!

What does this mean?

1. BAG IT – We implore you to store your used plastics in a separate bag from regular garbage. This means an additional bin, or one suggestion is to find a discreet place in a cupboard or somewhere in the backyard, that’s not exposed to the elements, to hang this bag dedicated to recycling.

2. BRING IT – When this bag is full – which may not be as soon as the receptacle for regular garbage – take it to the space we have dedicated for recycling.

3. BIN IT – Place the bag of plastics inside the cage/bin

That’s it! Recycling in three easy steps. To find the closest recycling receptacle to your location, visit here:

This Plastic Free July, start a new habit of utilizing these three easy steps to keep plastics out of our environment and #Putplasticinitsplace!

Need a little more motivation? Watch this:

Now you can be paid up to $50 per kilo of PET (type 1) and HDPE (type 2) plastics once you have collected 68kg or more. (Note: a kilo is less than a pound!) Find out more here.

It’s time to make a change! (Do something).

The delightful dancehall deejay Agent Sasco is participating in RPJ’s current campaign. Listen out for the radio and TV ads!

3 thoughts on “Plastic Free July and the importance of recycling in Jamaica

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