Getting caught with a plastic bag in Kenya can land you in jail for 4 years

If you're in Kenya, don't be caught with a plastic bag. Starting today, using a plastic bag, whether for groceries, lining a trash can, or anything else you can think of, will cost you the equivalent of a $38,000 fine or land you in jail for up to four years.

According to NPR:

"It is a toxin that we must get rid of," Judi Wakhungu, the country's Cabinet secretary for the environment, told reporters. "It's affecting our water. It's affecting our livestock and, even worse, we are ingesting this as human beings."

But the new law is controversial.

The Kenyan Association of Manufacturers, which challenged the ban in court, said nearly 3 percent of all Kenyans are directly employed by the 176 plastic manufacturers in the country. The ban, they argued, will cost cost Kenya tens of thousands of jobs.

Then there is the issue of convenience. When I visited Kibera in June to report on the proposed ban, residents overwhelmingly opposed it…

Kenneth Okoth, a member of Parliament who represents Kibera, opposed the ban because he said it would affect his poor constituents the most. In Kibera there is little running water, no toilets or outhouses, but the ban will affect the so-called flying toilets — plastic bags residents use to defecate and urinate in.

"It may look very fashionable in international circles," he said. "But in reality, in a place like Kibera, we still need those plastics."

It's only been a day, but so far no one has been busted for using a bag.

Image: Trosmisiek