To the Editor:
It may surprise Rhode Islanders to learn that the plastic bag they used today for 15 minutes to transport their groceries will still be around in more than a thousand years – and likely indefinitely. This is, however, the unfortunate truth, as plastic never biodegrades.
In Rhode Island, too many of these bags end up in Narragansett Bay and the ocean, causing great harm to our environment, wildlife and beautiful coastline. Luckily, reusable bags are readily available as an alternative. An estimated 12 billion gallons of oil are required to produce the estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags used annually in the U.S., and recycling programs have proven ineffective. Switching to reusable bags would save tremendous energy and resources in addition to keeping trash out of our waterways.
We now have an opportunity to eliminate plastic shopping bags in Rhode Island to protect Narragansett Bay and other waterways. Just last week, legislation was introduced in the State Senate to ban plastic bags statewide, a counterpart to the House bill introduced last month. By following the example that places such as San Francisco and our own town of Barrington have already set, we can transition away from the wasteful and harmful habit of disposable plastic bags.
The plastic bag ban is already supported by a large proportion of Rhode Island residents and many businesses and is strongly endorsed by the environmental community. I urge the Rhode Island General Assembly to vote for the plastic bag ban and I encourage all concerned citizens to contact their representatives about the issue.