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Plastic ban debate at Rebel Salute - Luciano says ban is nonsense

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2019 | 12:00 AMKimberly Small/Gleaner Writer
Luciano in performance at Rebel Salute 2019. The veteran reggae artiste is not in agreement with the plastic ban.
Iwara, owner of Mi Hungry Raw Food Restaurant.
Tony Rebel

In the realm of Rastafarianism, it is assumed that the conversation about Jamaica's ban on plastic and single-use plastic items, falls in the area of ital livity. However, conversations at the 26th annual Rebel Salute Reggae festival revealed that opinions are strong on both ends of the spectrum. Reggae veteran Luciano, expressed his disagreement with the recently implemented restrictions, while festival principal Tony Rebel acknowledged that there are many good arguments for the ban. Meanwhile 'Nyahbinghistra' vocalist and drummer Anu Brian Gold, welcomed the move - and is already researching other sustainable materials and methods for Jamaican everyday life.

"It is nonsense! I don't know how the Government come up with the idea of this. I believe Mr (Daryl) Vaz probably had too much to eat that day when he came up with the idea," Luciano told The Gleaner.

He believes that the ban is an inconvenience. "Which other bag we a go find now? Because the plastic has been with us. All we need to do is educate the people on how to dispose of their garbage and how to deal with their waste. Right now, if you check my vehicle, I can have all two or three scandal bag somewhere. You can tie your fruits in them - it is so handy."


Herb Curb/Hemp Ave


But one solution Luciano sees maybe in Rebel Salute's Herb Curb Symposium - the educational avenue through which the brand hopes to disseminate information about the potential sustainable benefits of cultivating hemp. "Ganja makes cloth that is more durable than cotton. Every time you cut a tree down - there is soil erosion, all sorts of things happen with the sea," said Luciano.

He continued, "If they cultivate ganja, we could get three harvests for the year. You could use that to make the best fibre and environmentally friendly paper. We want to educate the people more about the things ganja can do, because it makes many different products. The Constitution of America - I say all the time - was written on hemp paper."

Still, Rebel Salute has some way to go. A quick scan of the festival's food village found only one vendor making environmentally friendly choices. Iwara, owner of Mi Hungry Raw Food Restaurant, had a particularly 'sustainable' stall. They served their 'live food' pizzas and burgers (no heat added meals) in waxed paper and cardboard boxes. Other food vendors maintained traditional packaging - styrofoam, foil, and plastic forks and spoons.

Though he welcomes the plastic ban, the restaurateur opined that the government could have better paced the ban's effective date. He suggested that more research could have yielded replacement options for those who rely on the standard packages. "I don't know of it, I was trying to find out but I don't hear of it - any leniency on tariffs to bring in sustainable replacements. That could have been encouraged when introducing something like this - because packaging costs have gone up by far," Iwara said.

Anu Brian Gold is working with the plastic ban. "I'd like to see more use of the bamboo, guango, cedar wood - plus our craftsmen will get more chances to show what they can do. I'm learning about bamboo right now. It is actually tougher than steel. You can't just tell people that. You have to prove that. We have to go into bamboo production. There are bamboo bridges in the world. We just need to bring that knowledge to the people, because everybody has access to bamboo. So, I really adore the plastic ban."

Luciano is wary. "When I went to the shop the other day and bought two bottle drinks ... when I put them in the paper bag, by the time I reach out to the vehicle, condensation from the bottles sweat the paper and tear it up! It's really inconvenient for us to try and make this drastic change from these very handy bags."