In recent times great awareness has been drawn to protecting the environment. However, one challenge to this is plastics, which is used repeatedly from bagging groceries, to drinking juices out of plastic bottles and let’s not forget the take-out food which is served up in foam plates. While the United Nations has been observing World Environmental Day since 1974, Belize has been doing so for approximately seven years. This year’s theme was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. Love News spoke with Celi Cho, Environmental Officer at the Department of the Environment who shared about the harmful effects of plastics.
Celi Cho – Environment Officer: “Plastic is so common place now a days; we make a lot of things out of Plastic. It is a very useful material but the problem about it: it does not biodegrade; not like paper or other materials that are easy to decompose. So its stays a long time in the environment and there is so many challenges in terms of whether it is on Land or on Marine. There is a large plastic island and they have found more than one floating around different oceans around the world and this come about because of all the plastic that we use and throw away and for many different reasons they end up in the sea. It affects Marine life in the sea, some turtles for example they mistake plastic bags with Jellyfish and Turtles eat Jellyfish so they would eat the plastic bag and that affect their inside and sometimes they eventually die and that’s with just looking at the Marine aspect. On Land, it’s a similar situation. In countries like Belize where we are just trying to establish proper disposal methods for the country, we have the Western Region where we have the Sanitary Landfill and Transfer Stations, for the North: The two Northern Districts and two Southern Districts in Belize is just now looking at projects where we can develop a system to collect and proper disposal of the waste. Without that then the plastic a lot of time just end up in the environment in our water bodies and from there it goes down to the sea.”
Cho explained one of the efforts the Department of the Environment is undertaking to create more awareness about the dangers of plastics.
Celi Cho – Environment Officer: “We are having a video competition, the deadline is June 15th, I believe next week Friday and we are asking anybody, it is open to everyone, they can create a video, a short video, one minute video where they look at their community so we are trying to localize it for individual to think about their community. See what challenge their community is facing with plastic and ways that they can begin to mitigate against that or ways or what they can do to solve that plastic problem in their community.”
Cho said everyone can contribute to help reduce the harmful effects that plastic pose to the environment by purchasing food in reusable container. Cho said that this is a practice of the staff at her workplace