First considered a decade ago, Rhode Island lawmakers have approved legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide effective Jan 1, 2024. It remains unclear whether the governor will sign it.
And while I applaud any effort to cut back on single-use plastics, this effort does not go nearly far enough. Why?
Single-use plastic bags would be banned only at point of sale. It says nothing about produce, deli, and take-out orders bags. Think about how many of those make it into your home each week.
And, right on queue, the American Recyclable Plastic Bags Alliance, a lobbying group that represents the U.S. plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry has raised opposition stating that "the real answer to plastic pollution is recycling". It also claims that "thicker plastic bags are more durable and considered reusable as they are made for long term use."
But, they are still plastic. Even if you use them a dozen times before they begin to give out, they eventually end up in the landfill, in our oceans, on our streets, as plastic pollution.
And, these so-called "Bags for Life", actually makes the plastic problem worse since they require far more plastic to manufacture and customers like them more than the flimsy bags of yesterday.
So, what's a girl to do?
Tip 1: Refuse any unnecessary plastic bags! Be strong, say no. You can carry a few items in your hands.
Tip 2: Put 5 reusable bags in your car. Keep one in your purse or backpack, so you are always ready.
Tip 3: Forgot your bags? Suck it up and pile your groceries into your cart unbagged. Bag them once they are in your car (see Tip 1) or pile them into a laundry basket when you get home. You won't forget next time!
Tip 4: Bring your own produce bags. You can buy reusable, washable, cotton bags or reuse the plastic produce bags you already brought home. Just don't bring in any more plastic!
Remember, habits can be hard to form. If you mess up, try again next time, but keep the goal in mind. No more plastic.