If you haven’t already heard, the nation of California may have won a small victory for the environment by making single use plastic bags illegal. Though somewhat of a contentious topic, it appears that enough was enough. Too many of those plastic shopping bags were ending up in the water.
By best estimates, no less than half a TRILLION single use plastic bags are put in our hands every year. Their average use is about 12 minutes. They then end up in landfills, oceans, lakes, rivers, and in the bellies of our beloved wildlife. The critters that aren’t killed by eating plastic refuse, defecate plastic remains where ever. Is our planet being covered in plastic?
There is no debate, that non reusable bags are convenient, unnecessary, and wasteful. On top of the outright litter, they’re a petroleum product so manufacturing equals millions of tons of CO2. Then there’s the transporting of bags and the related exhaust pollution. This is a no win situation. In case you were thinking about paper bags, mostly no better. They’re more energy intensive to manufacture and share most of the downsides of plastic bags.
Back to the “left coast.” Even though the bag referendum passed in state government, it’s been challenged via petition promoted by corporate bag alliances. So the vote goes to the people. In the mean time, California is following a growing trend both locally and nationally to tax single use bags or ban them altogether.
What can we do in the mean time? If you get a single use bag, be diligent to reuse it or recycle. Many grocery stores have a bag recycle bin. Bring a reusable bag with you. With plastics accounting for 80% of marine debris and millions spent on proper discard, it’s probably time for us to step up our own responsibilities. So if you see a bag anywhere, pick it up and recycle. You’ll smile that much more next time you’re on the water.