Ban Plastic Bags and Plastic Straws in Moorestown, New Jersey
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Single-use plastics pose an immediate threat to life everywhere. These items, like plastic bags and plastic straws, are non-biodegradable, which means they can remain in landfills for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. As they degrade, they can release dangerous toxins into the surrounding environment. Single-use plastics are also irresponsibly dumped into our oceans, contaminating them and the life they contain. In both marine environments and in landfills, microplastics can find their way into food chains and contaminate organisms at every level, including humans. Ingesting microplastics has been shown to lead to problems with immunization, birth defects, and even cancer.
Every year, between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide, and 500 million plastic straws are used daily by Americans alone, enough to circle the Earth 2.5 times. Every year, an estimated 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from consuming plastic.
Plastics also originate from crude oil, which is a major source of pollution. 60 to 100 million barrels of oil are required to produce just a year's worth of plastic bags worldwide. Reusing or recycling one ton of plastic is the equivalent of saving 11 barrels of oil.
The most effective way to deal with the plastic crisis is to ban at least some of these harmful substances. Currently, the most practical single-use plastic bans to impose are those on plastic bags and plastic straws. Both of these have viable alternatives, such as reusable bags or a wide variety of reusable straws (or just drinking from the cup...). Plastic straws are probably the easiest type of single-use plastic to phase out, as they rarely require any drastic changes in behavior. One successful model to follow right here in New Jersey was a plastic bag ban in Jersey City, which passed unanimously in the City Council. The ban, implemented one year after it was passed, will help residents change their behaviors by encouraging them to bring their own bags. The mayor of Jersey City, Steve Fulop, was in strong support of the ban, stating, “We invested dollars in it to do our part to make sure the planet is a better place than the way we found it.”
Banning single-use plastics is not a novel idea, as it is being done all around the world. Numerous municipalities in our own state have begun to enact their own restrictions on plastics, in addition to cities across the country. California and Hawaii have championed their own single-use plastic bans, and other states are quickly following suit. Even the European Union has decided that single-use plastics have got to go.
Phasing out certain plastics in just one town might seem insignificant, but regulations for plastics on the local level will pressure the state legislature for statewide bans, which in turn will fuel the movement for federal policies on plastics.
Everyone is responsible for the global plastic disaster, which means we all have to do our part to mitigate it. We are calling on the Moorestown Town Council to make the ethical choice and end the use of environmentally harmful plastic bags and plastic straws in our town.
Hugh. “The Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws – Facts, Statistics, and Infographic.” Get Green Now, 30 July 2019, https://get-green-now.com/environmental-impact-plastic-straws/
New, Maggie. “Why Are Plastic Bags So Bad for the Environment?” Sciencing, 5 Dec. 2018, https://sciencing.com/why-are-plastic-bags-so-bad-for-the-environment-5005999.html
Stempler, Falyn. “Jersey City's Plastic Bag Ban Now in Effect, Drawing Cheers and Jeers.” Nj.com, Advance Local Media, 28 June 2019, www.nj.com/hudson/2019/06/jersey-citys-plastic-bag-ban-now-in-effect-drawing-cheers-and-jeers.html
Wales, Mary. “Why Single-Use Plastics Are Bad-And What You Can Do About It.” Nature's Path Foods, 18 July 2018, www.naturespath.com/en-us/blog/single-use-plastics-bad-can/
“What Is Single-Use Plastic and Why Is It a Problem?” Plastic Free Challenge, 2016, www.plasticfreechallenge.org/what-is-single-use-plastic/
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