Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Plastic Bags: On Their Way Out?

In California alone, consumers use upwards of 19 million plastic bags per year, which require approximately 8 million barrels of oil to produce. 90 percent of the bags used in the United States never get recycled. Globally, of the 500 billion of the flimsy, single-use bags we go through, many end up either in landfills or as wind-blown or ocean gyre litter that gets consumed by wildlife and marine life, resulting in many agonizingly painful deaths. For many environmentalists and concerned consumers, plastic bags represent Public Enemy #1. Across the globe, cities, counties and countries are grappling with this environmental disaster. Countries that have banned their use include Italy, Thailand, Bangladesh, Israel and Rwanda, as well as a number of cities in India, Australia and Canada.

Here in the U.S., numerous cities and towns have banned the use of single use plastic bags. Twelve cities in California alone have done so, including San Francisco, Malibu. Palo Alto, San Jose, Long Beach, and Calabasas. Two other California towns, Manhattan Beach and Oakland, also banned them but rescinded the ban due to lawsuits. Manhattan Beach, however, recently won its lawsuit so the ban may soon be back in effect. Bans are also in place in Westport, Connecticut; Aspen, Colorado; Brownsville, Texas, and in both Kauai and Maui, Hawaii. And at least 30 towns in western Alaska have banned them.


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