Column ignores many ugly plastic bag facts

OlympiaJanuary 30, 2013 

Jan Teague and her client, the Washington Retail Association, would have us believe that the only downside to the use of plastic shopping bags is ordinary litter. As a quick google search will tell you, there’s a lot more to the story, and its a very ugly story.

Here’s a short list of what you’ll find at “plastic bags facts.” Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make plastic bags in the U.S. annually. Plastic creates four times the solid waste versus paper. It takes 700 to l,000 years for plastic bags to degrade.

Less than 1 percent of all plastic bags are recycled in the U.S. More than 100,000 birds and marine creatures die each year due to an encounter with plastic, much of it plastic bags. Some estimates are much higher.

Plastic eventually degrades into ever smaller pieces, and enters the food chain, eventually to humans.

Many environmental problems are costly and inconvenient to solve. This is not one of them. For just a little effort a big environmental and financial return can be realized.

It would be nice if we would do it voluntarily, but there’s no evidence that any significant number of us will switch to reusable cloth bags without serious encouragement.

We need a ban. Now.

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