Last month, Mexico City banned businesses from using of plastic shopping bags that are not biodegradable. With this new law in place, Mexico City and San Francisco are now the only two large cities in the Western hemisphere that have outlawed the usage of non-biodegradable plastic bags. However, many other countries, including Tanzania, China, Australia, Italy, Taiwan, and India, have already outlawed the bags entirely, or imposed fees for using the bags. In fact, Mumbai, India, outlawed the use of plastic bags 9 years ago, in 2000, which was 7 years before San Francisco enacted the ordinance.
This new step in going green is a great thing for Mexico, a place where people often litter without thinking of the damage they are doing to their country, and to the planet. According to the United Nations Environment Program, cigarette butts are the most common form of litter and plastic shopping bags are the second-most-common form. The non-biodegradable bags are a major pollutant not only on land, but also in our seas. Sea turtles, and other marine life, mistake the floating bags for food and die when they attempt to eat the plastic.
Mexico City is a very progressive city, having banned smoking before many major cities in the US did so. We can only hope that the rest of Mexico (and all other countries, for that matter), will also outlaw the use of shopping bags that are not biodegradable. Cancun stores still use plastic shopping bags, but supermarkets currently sell the cloth, reusable bags for less than $2 USD, per bag.
Mexico City, a city with some of the worst air pollution in the world, is also doing other things to help the environment, like placing more than 1,000 bicycles at stations around the city, for residents to use.
Also, in the past 2 years, Mexico has cut it’s greenhouse gas emissions by 19.5 million tons. 10.6% of the reduction came from doing things, like replanting land, dedicating land for conservation, and replacing old fishing boat motors with newer, less-polluting models. Mexico has vowed to cut it’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tons a year, by the time President Calderon leaves office, in December 2012. Calderon has made environmental issues a top priority, during his term in office.
In late-November, Cancun will host the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference, where representatives from government agencies from around the world will meet to discuss ways to combat global climate change.