Los Angeles is now the largest city in the United States to have banned plastic bags. Over the next 16 months, plastic bags will be phased out of approximately 7,500 grocery stores — at which point shoppers will have to bring reusable bags or purchase paper ones for 10 cents each. According to the L.A. Times, “clean water advocates” estimate that California residents use 12 billion plastic bags per year, and only recycle about 5 percent of those. Despite the facts, some L.A. residents are perturbed by the fact that in less than two years, plastic bags simply won’t be an option at their stores. As one shopper stated in the L.A. Times article, “I wish we could use plastics bags,” she said. “I wish they could bring them back. I get it’s better for the environment, but it’s a lot to remember — bringing a reusable bag — especially if you’re in a rush.”
Many people — especially environmental advocates and those who understand the true impact plastic bags have on the environment — feel strongly that humans should be responsible enough to bring their own bag for the sake of the planet. For those of us who simply love to play outside, it’s becoming increasingly harder to take a hike, paddle a kayak or ride your bike in the wilderness and not see a plastic Ziploc or grocery store bag somewhere along the way.
With all of that said, for those who doubt that plastic bags are awful for Earth, the 5 Gyres organization recently posted a blog in which it says that evidence from Peer-Reviewed Journals shows that humans are actually underestimating the amount of plastic pollution that’s out there, and that’s a chilling thought. What’s even more chilling is this set of facts, stated by 5 Gyres’ Stiv Wilson:
“First, all the science from peer reviewed journals says we’re UNDERESTIMATING the amount of plastic in the environment. Second, THE PLASTICS INDUSTRY is the sector that reports on recycling rates TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY that issues the report on recovery rates. How can we underestimate what the plastic industry itself is reporting? Third, how much damage to marine life is OKAY? And what is the tipping point for it BEING NOT OKAY? One turtle? Two turtles and a whale? Five turtles, an otter and three dolphins? Pffft. C’mon, we’re not going play poker with the biodiversity of this planet.”
Part of the problem, as stated above, is that we simply don’t know how much plastic pollution is too much plastic pollution, which is why we need to begin limiting our use of plastics now. Thanks to the L.A. bag ban, we’re proving that as a country, we’re ready to start taking action. And hopefully other cities big and small will take the cue from L.A. and ban the bag!
PHOTO Via: 5 Gyres
Here at Osprey, we’re committed to protecting the world around us. Each Thursday, we share stories, action alerts or news from the groups we support. To learn more about our commitment to the environment, please visit our website.