Hurley’s has taken a step towards making its shopping experience more environmentally friendly.
The supermarket announced Tuesday that it will no longer distribute single-use plastic bags at its checkout counters. The plastic has been replaced by paper bags with handles and large reusable Earthwise shopping bags. Hurley’s said it made the move after prompting from customers.
“We have listened to our customers’ comments and agree with their growing environmental concerns,” said Hurley’s Director Shanna Merren in an official statement.
“So today at Hurley’s, we begin the transition to greener options. We were distributing about 15,000 single-use bags per week, but now we are done with plastic and will now only offer reusable bags.”
The elimination of single-use plastics has become a cause célèbre in Cayman and around the world. Plastic Free Cayman has been staging monthly beach clean-ups, and Pirates Week elected to eliminate single-use plastic containers and cutlery from its festival food courts last year.
Single-use plastic bags take many years to biodegrade, whereas Hurley’s new paper bags will biodegrade in as little as a month. Hurley’s cited a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency that indicates there will be more plastics by weight in our oceans than fish by the year 2050.
“We all love and enjoy our Cayman waters,” said Merren. “It is estimated that five or six million single-use bags are distributed annually in the Cayman Islands. If Hurley’s alone can cut this number by 800,000 bags a year, we are pleased to take that first step in protecting our greatest natural resource.”
Paper bags will be sold at the register at Hurley’s for 10 cents each, and the eco-friendly reusable bags are available for $1.59. Hurley’s is also replacing plastic straws, Styrofoam deli containers and plastic salad containers with alternatives that are more environmentally friendly.
“We are so thankful to Hurley’s for taking this monumental step,” said Claire Hughes, founder of Plastic Free Cayman, in an official statement. “Single-use plastic bags continue to litter our beautiful island and surrounding waters. With other countries making bans on single-use plastics, this shows we don’t have to wait for government to make changes, we can simply stop using them, as it’s the right thing to do. We hope to see other stores in Cayman follow suit in the near future.”
Camille Humphreys, marketing manager for Kirk Market, said Wednesday that Kirk supports green initiatives at the checkout counter and beyond. Humphreys said that the store gave away 6,000 Kirk Market tote bags to shoppers last Earth Day in an effort to be more eco-friendly.
“We have also been encouraging our customers to switch from plastic to reusable bags at the checkout and as a result, have seen a 115% increase year-on-year in the use of our reusable bags,” said Humphreys. “Additionally, five years ago, we replaced 98% of petroleum-based plastics with recyclable and compostable, plant-based options. We are constantly testing and researching environmentally friendly options and are working towards eliminating as much single-use plastic as possible.”
Meanwhile, the National Trust and Plastic Free Cayman are planning on staging a public demonstration on Friday to highlight the growing problem of plastic pollution and climate change in the Cayman Islands.
That demonstration, which will be held at 12:20pm on the steps of the Government Administration Building, will signal the second consecutive year the National Trust and Plastic Free Cayman have teamed up.
Last year, a group of students from several local schools joined the protest by conducting a letter-writing campaign to the respective government representatives.