The tragedy of loss for the owners is acknowledged and we hope and pray the health and wellbeing of the fire attendants and local residents were protected from the inevitable toxic fumes from the burning plastic within the building. As most of us will know, the fumes produced by the fire were considerable.
The silver lining for this tragic event may well be the unceremonious ridding of a lot of plastic items that will not end up filling our houses and inevitably our landfill. The environmental protection community’s theme for July is “say no to single use plastic”, and the owners of Raromart and the Chinese manufacturers they import their goods from, will no doubt argue that their products are not “single use”.
There are plenty of us on the island and around the world who will attest to the fact that although the label on some plastic items say they are for regular daily use for a period of perceived time like “forever” in the case of a plastic cup, toy or piece of garden furniture.
The reality is, as we have found on numerous and regular occasions that items made from inferior plastic break, crack, or fall apart after one or two uses. Buying one inferior Chinese-made “copy” of the original quality design product because it is cheap guarantees the buyer will have to replace it a number of times, while the original more expensive item will still provide the service and reliability you expect from the design and in the long run ends up costing the same or less as poor quality ones.
This could be the perfect time for the newly-elected MPs in the new-look government to act accordingly to bring in tariffs and restrictions on the type of inferior products brought into the country. Now is the time to say “no” to all products that are not going to allow us to be fully sustainable by 2020, as proposed by Henry Puna some years ago.
We only have 18 months left to get solar powered and deal with our environmental problems, so let's take this disastrous fire as a sign from God. Let’s not allow any more poor quality plastic on our island. If you can't be given a five year guarantee, then it is not worth buying.
Maybe, in the case of Raromart and other retailers, they could look at the concept that less is more and be movers and shakers in the promotion of “quality, not quantity” for the good people of the Cook Islands.
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