OPINION

The last straw?

the-last-straw

If you wake up this morning and try to get a plastic straw for your coffee, you will find out plastic straws have vanished.

But that is not the only unpleasant surprise the day has in store for you: You will not be able to find Q-tips and you will be searching in vain for plastic plates, cutlery and drink shakers. By night, you will be able to count 10 categories of single-use plastics that will have become history.

What? You don’t believe me?

Starting today, our country is officially obliged to limit its consumption of plastic, fining the delinquents and encouraging “environmentally friendly practices.”

This is not new; the official announcement had been made in autumn 2020, in Parliament, by Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis. The ministry’s relevant legislation essentially incorporates a European Union directive that is part of its strategy to limit single-use plastics.

Back then, Hatzidakis had noted that, “similarly to enforcing the law on limiting smoking, we are determined to enforce the legislation’s provisions in order to reduce the effect of plastic products on the environment.”

The issue has been highlighted in photogenic fashion. Graphics and photos published regularly should have stopped any use. If no measures are taken, our seas will contain more plastics than fish by 2050. More than 150 million tons of plastics clutter our oceans right know, affecting the food chain and our health. More than 26 million tons of plastic waste is collected every year in Europe. The more we read, the more scared we get.

The same is true for every calamity that manifests itself when all warnings have been exhausted and the deadly consequences ravage the planet, whether it is climate change or the pandemic.

So, relax, nothing will change so dramatically in your day today. Plastic straws will still be available and so will styrofoam cups. Prohibition is not enough. We also need awareness. The fight against smoking in Greece has been long, required extreme effort, and has not been bloodless, either. The truth is, fines have played a huge part.

It so happens that we don’t have the luxury of time. Planetary developments are on fast-forward. The next catastrophe doesn’t need to be a spectacular tsunami. One more plastic straw is enough.