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Bag Ban Bill

We can displace 50 million plastic bags if we start now.

September 10, 2009
Commentary contributed by Elizabeth Crow · Kīhei

In spite of current recycling campaigns, only a small percentage of plastic grocery bags are recycled. The rest end up in our landfills, often blown by the wind across the state and into the ocean, despite the efforts of the folks at Maui County Landfill, who are doing everything they can, including daily cleanup of the bags.

Maui County has passed a bill banning the use of plastic bags in 2011 at all grocery and retail outlets. I say let’s start our good habits now for a smoother transition later. We can save our environment from potentially 50 million bags if we start transitioning to reusable bags now. If you have any doubts on the numbers, take a drive to the landfill some windswept afternoon.

Here are a few more facts:

Here in our marine environment, plastic bags are killing and injuring at least 100,000 marine animals a year by ingestion suffocation and entanglement. Plastic bags never fully degrade, but eventually break down to a plastic dust that is ingested by filter-feeding fish at the bottom of the food chain.

There is a simple solution: A reusable grocery bag. A reusable bag can eliminate hundreds to thousands of disposable bags over its lifetime. There is a wide array of reusable shopping bags available at our fingertips. The county does a fine job of providing bags for free for the community. I have four, including one I’ve had for over 10 years, which is still in great shape. The others were free. One is made from recycled plastic bottles. Start your own collection and put a few in your car.

It took me awhile to remember to bring them in to the store, but once I got in the habit, it was and is very rewarding.

I think you’ll find it is much easier and more satisfying than you imagined.



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