The Scandal of The Plastic Bag: Killing Our Environment One Transaction At A Time.

Here in the US, it is typical to walk into a pharmacy or grocery store and leave with your purchase in a plastic bag labelled with the store’s insignia.  For the most part, you won’t find that in Jamaica.  Instead, it is typical to receive your purchase (no matter how small) in an opaque, black plastic bag known colloquially as a “scandal bag”.  Explanations for the origin of the “scandal bag” vary.  One theory is that shoppers decided that the previously popular transparent plastic bags revealed their purchases and personal business to everyone, and us being Jamaicans, we just had to find a nickname for the preferred opaque black bag – hence the name scandal bag.  Regardless of its origin, it is undoubtedly a staple of Jamaican culture and some would even call it a Jamaican “treasure”.  But, recent environmental disasters resulting directly from plastic bag use and overuse highlight that it is anything but innocuous and anything but a national treasure.  The true scandal is our planet’s dependency on plastic bags – that despite what we know about their devastating impact on the environment we continue to make, consume and thoughtlessly dispose of them, tainting our land, sea, and air at rapidly disturbing rates.