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Our Readers Write

December 22, 2010

City Council should ban use of plastic bags

In response to an article by Joe Piaseki, "City hesitant to regulate plastic bags," published Nov. 25, I would urge La Cañada Flintridge to ban plastic bags. The issue of plastic bags involves more than litter.

Plastics are not biodegradable once they end up in landfills or the marine ecosystem. Almost every bit of plastic ever made still exists. Plastic bags kill sea animals that become entangled with them or mistake them for food. Plastic bags that enter our marine environment eventually change into small fragments, which in some areas of the ocean outweigh plankton by over 40 times.

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The Great Pacific garbage patch has 3.5 million tons of trash, and 80% of it is plastic. It is at least as large as Texas, and perhaps larger than the continental United States.

The cost of disposing plastic bags costs California millions of dollars. Californians use 19 billion plastic bags every year. That's 600 bags per second. Numerous recent international, national, state and local reports have called for the banning or drastic reduction of plastic bags due to their environmental damage.

Plastic bags, which are made from natural gas or oil, consume an energy equivalent of thousands of barrels of oil a day just to meet California's consumption. Around 100 billion petroleum-based plastic checkout bags are used each year in the United States, requiring an estimated 12 million barrels of oil each year.

Washington, D.C.'s 5-cent tax on plastic bags, instated a year ago, has already proven to have a phenomenal impact: The number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and other establishments dropped from the 2009 monthly average of 22.5 million to just 3 million in January. The tax simultaneously generated $150,000 in revenue.

Plastic bags are costly in terms of energy used, disposal and leaving behind a plastic legacy in our oceans, waterways, and wildlife. They are a big problem with a simple solution. Although reusable bags are readily available, most people still choose plastic bags because of convenience. If the consumer has to pay for a plastic bag, it is more likely that people will bring their own bags.

I suggest that Mayor Voss and the City Council study this issue. And, if there are others that agree with me, then they need to encourage the city of La Cañada Flintridge to join the Los Angeles County ban on plastic bags.

Marnie Gaede

La Cañada Flintridge

 

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