Ban single-use plastic bags in Colorado

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Plastic bags are everywhere: Swaying in trees, at your favorite stores, stuffed in a pile in your house, and in tiny particles in our water sources.

However, one place that plastic bags aren’t going currently is recycling. Although Americans bring home around 1,500 plastic bags a year according to Waste Management, the average family only recycles 15, which, multiplied by the population of the nation and the world, creates a huge strain on the environment.


When plastic inevitably finds it way into soil or water, the ecosystem is contaminated as its particles break down. According to National Geographic, scientists estimate that there are 5.25 trillion plastic particles- 8.8 million tons of plastic waste- in the ocean, and without making a change, this number will show no signs of slowing.


However, single-use carryout bags do not only pose a threat to the earth in their disposal, their manufacturing does so as well. Plastic bags are made of petroleum, a fossil-fuel, and require fossil-fuel energy to produce, which adds up to a sizable amount of nonrenewable resources being used. This environmental burden is misplaced, as plastic bags are only used for an average of 12 minutes.


By prohibiting use of single-use plastic bags and requiring a ten cent fee for paper and reusable plastic bags in Colorado, the state can follow the lead of the eight cities in the state that have already placed fees or bans and become a model for the environmentally conscious. This strategy has had greatly positive effects across the country: In Washington D.C., where they placed a 5-cent charge on paper and plastic carryout bags, there has been a 60% drop in overall single-use bags and, in effect, bag litter. In San Jose, where a ban was placed in 2011, plastic litter has decreased “approximately 89 percent in the storm drain system, 60 percent in the creeks and rivers, and 59 percent in city streets and neighborhoods,” according to the Scientific American.


By taking this strategy even further to reduce environmental strain and needless waste, we can beautify the Centennial State and set a positive example for the rest of the country.

 



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