Guatemala’s market is replacing plastic bags with plantain leaves
San Pedro La Laguna is determined to stop the use of plastic bags and other petroleum based products like straws and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Its mayor, Mauricio Méndez banned its distribution due to the threats they represent to the environment.
Plastic bags, despite their practicality, take between 150 to 200 years to decompose, being a great source of pollution. Instead in the local market people are selling their produces and delivering them in plantain leaf bags.
Replacing plastic bags means less plastic will end up polluting the lake, hence gaining locals support. Fernando, a local butcher told EFE, “Plantain leaves serve the same way plastic bags do, but they don’t pollute our lake.” “But some are still using plastic bags,” remarked María, a seafood seller.
Local authorities began by exchanging plastic bags for paper ones, hoping the transition away from plastic isn’t affecting the people in the market. Also they’ve imposed sanction that vary from $40 to 2,000 dollars for those who refuse to accept the new legislation.
The municipality is located in the southwestern side of the Atitlan lake and its people belong in their majority to the tzu’utujil community. Their income comes from tourism and commerce in the region. Unfortunately, contamination in the Atitlan lake had increased in the last years and became of great concern.
This is the third time similar measures against the use of plastic has been taken in the country.
Plantain leaves are usually used in Latin America and the Caribbean to wrap traditional plates such as tamales, but they have a wide range of applications because they are large, flexible, waterproof and also decorative. Historically they were the primary writing surfaces in many South American nations.