The government of the beautiful tropical paradise of Hawaii have officially banned plastic bags from supermarkets and shops as of 1 July 2015. Surrounded by gorgeous coral reefs and diverse marine life it's protection from human waste and destruction is a significant concern for its local residents. Instead businesses must replace them with offers of reusable bags, compostable plastic or paper. It's the first state in United States of America to make the big move, but why should others follow suit?
Plastic bags were invented only around 50 years ago and are made from finite resources such as oil and natural gas. The classic T-shirt design with handles and it's relative strength and durability has made it such a desired convenience that it's easily overtook it's predecessor; the brown paper bag. Today it is estimated an average 1 trillion bags are used and discarded worldwide every year!
The production of plastic bags alone consumes an equivalent 6.6 litres or petrol or 6.06 kg of CO2 emissions per average household shop. They are also unfortunately one of the biggest contributors to pollution and landfill where they take hundreds of years to disintegrate. Plastic bags are very light weight and aerodynamic and are easily blown away even out of bins and rubbish trucks. A large percentage of which make their way into our oceans and waterways. Plastic bags are particularly dangerous for marine life as they look like jellyfish and are transparent causing many animals to attempt to ingest them or get caught inside and suffocate or drown. They also feature predominately in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, (located not far from Hawaii!) and other giant gyres of plastic litter brought together by tidal movements in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Several American cities and counties such as San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles County already have plastic bag bans in place and the state of California is in the processes of implementing bans. Unfortunately there are certain loopholes in legislations however, these are big moves in the right direction. It's exciting to see governments taking responsibility and making radical changes to protect our environment. On a smaller scale we too can help by saying NO to plastic bags and choosing reusable and recyclable options or bringing our own bags and backpacks from home.