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Plastic bags ban will bring us closer to achieving SDGs

A hawker sells biodegradable shopping bags at the Nyeri matatu terminus on August 28, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
A hawker sells biodegradable shopping bags at the Nyeri matatu terminus on August 28, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

Can you imagine the conversation with your cellmate, who is convicted of murder and you being in possession of a plastic bag?

Kenyans are struggling with the plastic bag ban, which I truly support. We had unfortunately become careless with our environment over the years.

Driving across town, you’d see how unsightly plastic bags had made our country. There’s nothing as frightening to a motorist as a bag of plastic flying across your windscreen.

While I support the ban; I may fault the authorities for not implementing it efficiently, transition has never been our strength.

Manufacturing companies and supermarket chains had the past six months to procure alternative packaging. Why wait until last minute to panic buy? The men feel emasculated carrying groceries in a kiondo (a sisal basket mainly carried by women) in hand.

It is sad to see that the alternatives are more expensive and harder to come by. Why are they so costly, yet there are resources available to address this need? Even more so, the punitive charges to being found in possession of a plastic bag are rather misplaced.

Can you imagine the conversation with your cellmate, who is convicted of murder and you being in possession of a plastic bag…? While it’s laughable, it is a glaring opportunity for textile processing companies to meet this rising need.

The plastic ban was one of the examples of how government wishes to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Corporates too have been steadfast in pushing for their implementation through their Social Responsibility initiatives. We all have a role to play in ensuring that plastics don’t suffocate us, and have to be more innovative with our garbage collection and disposal.

We have about 13 years to go to achieve the SDGs. I laud Kenyan entrepreneurs and various corporate organisations that take this seriously, and are keen on supporting the next generation to achieve the goals.

The global goals aim to improve the quality of life. It is easy to get caught up in the struggles of daily life, and fail to see the myriad of opportunities that lie in providing solutions for these challenges.

They can be a source of employment and income, if policies are well implemented. Safaricom #ticker:SCOM recently partnered with United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep) to promote low carbon development in the country.

Global Goals are not their core business you may argue. Yes, neither was M-Pesa and their partnership with banks, but who doesn’t use the famed financial product? I admire the visionary thinking in their approach to offering solutions.

They have challenged students to actively talk about the SDGs, not only at the M-Pesa Foundation Academy but also through the acclaimed The Great Debaters Contest show, a debate show that provides high school students with a forum for them to intellectually tackle matters of national, continental and global importance with the hope that they can contribute to the making of policies that shape our society and change the world views of young viewers and listeners.

The competitive show challenges high school students to discuss the SDGs and win goodies. These students are ripe with ideas on how to implement The Goals. They have the zeal and passion to make a difference in their lives and given the torch, they’ll blaze the trail.

Emily Manjeru is the head of communications at Arimus Media Limited, an African media production company based in Nairobi.

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