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This Tiny Caribbean Nation Has a Big Plan To Ban Plastics and Styrofoam

By January 2019, Dominica's government will no longer allow the use of these products on their island.

In recent months, cities across the globe have turned their backs on single-use plastics like bags and straws.

Now, the Caribbean nation Dominica is taking the biggest stance against plastic to date.

In a recent address to the government, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit outlined a plan to eliminate the use of many plastic products on the island. While the list is not finalized, he suggested in his budget address that plastic straws, utensils like forks and knives, and plates would be out, as would Styrofoam cups and food containers.

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Skerrit, citing Dominica's famous natural landscape, lush rainforests, and divorce flora and fauna, said he hopes the move will allow the nation to reclaim and protect their enviornment.

"Our strength lies in the rugged beauty of our natural environment and in the beauty of our people," he said in his address.

This push against plastics is part of Skerrit's goal to make Dominica, also known as the "Nature Isle" the world's first climate-resilient nation. Almost a year after Hurricane Maria badly damaged the island, the people of Dominica are recovering, but the storm and its aftermath shed light on the need for a more sustainable future, according to Skerrit's address.

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"Extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense, brought on by climate change impacts that are real, visible, devastating, and unrelenting," he said. "That is why this Government has made the bold proclamation to build the world’s first climate resilient nation."

He continued, "We must rebuild and reset our society and economy and protect our environment in order to achieve a new, more resilient Dominica."

The Dominican government has decided to make Roseau, a city on the island's southwest shore, "the flagship of a climate resilient city." This includes plans to complete and rehabilitate the city's infrastructure, including removing or burying utility lines, and sustainably landscaping the city's common spaces.

Dominica is certainly not the first to turn on plastics. They join a growing list of companies and countries, large and small, trying to tackle a growing pollution problem.

In fact, in 2015, the United Kingdom introduced a plastic bag tax to deter people from using the single-use totes in shopping trips. Researchers estimate that step cut the use of these bags by 30 percent. This year, the proposed banning cotton swabs and straws.

France will begin fining people for not using recycled plastic starting next year, and they have pledged to only use recycled plastics by 2025.

Earlier this summer, New Zealand and Austrlia introduced plans to phase out single-use plastics, including bags and food containers. International companies like Starbucks and Disney have also rolled out plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws, which frequently bypass solid waste filtration systems and end up in waterways and oceans.

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