We toss too much trash

 It’s time for the Cayman Islands to bECOme more environmentally friendly.

As you can read in our front page article in today’s Observer on Sunday, we throw away an awful lot of trash in the Cayman Islands.

And each time we tuck a tissue, water bottle, chicken bone or butter wrapper into the waste bin at home or at the office, we’re contributing to the ever-growing mass of the George Town Landfill, better known as Mount Trashmore because of its enormous size.

We find it absolutely ridiculous that any island nation – particularly ours – does not have a mandatory recycling programme.

This is something successive government should have addressed long ago and an issue that the sitting government should get serious about.

It appears that help may be on the horizon.

The Cayman Corporate Green Team Network has launched Cayman BECOME to address environmental issues here.

Its first mission is an attempt to get rid of plastic shopping bags in the country’s grocery stores. All three major supermarkets have agreed to the initiative and have begun introducing bio-degradable plastic shopping bags.

But come June the supermarkets will begin charging customers who continue to use the plastic bags in an effort to train consumers to take along their own reusable shopping bags.

We’re sure there will be an outcry from people when the charge is put into place, but it is something we should all rally behind. We have got to stop putting plastic in our landfill and ocean.

Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food. Turtles think the bags are jellyfish, their primary food source. Once swallowed, plastic bags choke animals or block their intestines, leading to an agonizing death.

On land, many cows, goats and other animals suffer a similar fate to marine life when they accidentally ingest plastic bags while foraging for food.

In a landfill, plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade. As litter, they break down into tiny bits, contaminating soil and water.

They’re also expensive. Don’t for a minute think that you’re getting a free bag when you shop. Retailers have to buy the shopping bags and pass the cost along to consumers by increasing prices on the goods being sold.

We hope the country rallies behind Cayman BECOME as it tries to help us improve our environment.