There’s been a lot of discussion about Trinidad & Tobago’s newest addition to their currency – the polymer hundred-dollar bill. Everyone’s favourite blue note is being given a makeover, and it may lead a lot of you to think what all the fuss is about in the first place. After all, it’s a regular bill, just like the last one, right? Not quite. There are a lot of interesting things that sets this new polymer $100 bill apart from the money you’ve grown used to.
For starters, the new bills are more durable than our previous dollars. The government’s decision to change our currency wasn’t just to make our money look more appealing, but to make sure that they last a little longer (even if you don’t feel they last longer in your pockets). Its makeup makes it more resistant to soiling like grease stains, as well as water damage (just in case you leave your money in your pocket often). And because of its makeup and its smooth feel, it’s also harder to tear than paper bills. And we all know how frustrating it is to get paid with a bill that’s stuck together with tape or dangling together like a hangnail. With this new currency, that’s likely to be a thing of the past.
Polymer currency also comes with the added benefit of being much easier to maintain. Part of the cost of making currency is having to replace torn or damaged bills on an annual basis. But polymer bills can last more than twice as long as its paper counterparts. That not only means that it’s less likely for average citizens to get a torn note, but also the government will spend less time and money having to replace them.
For those environmentally conscious consumers out there, I’m sure someone’s asked the question, ‘aren’t plastic notes worse for the environment?’ Technically, the answer is no. Beyond the fact that it’s very unlikely that someone’s going to litter by throwing their new hundred-dollar bills literally down the drain, there’s also the fact that these bills are actually more environmentally friendly than paper notes, not less. When paper notes are worn out, they have to be shredded and, in some countries, sent to landfills like other paper waste. But with plastic notes, in addition to being so durable, there’s a much higher chance that damaged currency can be recycled to make other plastic products. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be drinking from cups made from recycled money!
And then there’s the fact that this change will actually make it easier for every person to be independent consumers. The move to polymer bills makes our currency more accessible to the visually impaired and blind. Prior to this change, and the introduction of our $50 note, all of our paper bills looked and felt basically the same. But the move to polymer bills allows us to make slight but noticeable differences in each of our bills.
For instance, there’s a tangible X at the bottom right hand corner of the new hundred-dollar bills. That means that even someone who can’t see can get their hands on one and know exactly how much they have in their hands. As we begin to transition all of our currency to newer ones, we have a real opportunity to make our currency more accessible to everyone, especially the visually impaired.
Despite the complicated launch of this change to our currency, there are many reasons why we should look forward to the new polymer bills hitting ATMs and cash registers nationwide. What are your thoughts on these new bills? Do you think the pros (durability, accessibility, safety, eco-friendly) outweigh the cons?