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Plastic Bags: The cost is too high

Posted: August 15, 2011 - 9:37pm

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates up to 46,000 plastic particles per square mile of ocean. Some are smaller than a human hair, others are plankton size and often eaten by fish that, in turn are consumed by humans. Plastic chemicals are now found in human blood. Scientists are finding connections between plastics and obesity, cancer and other disease. Information about the impact of plastic chemicals on humans can be found on the Internet by Googling “plastic endocrine disruptors” and “obesogens”.

Six hundred billion plastic bags are used globally per year. The “free” plastic bag has become the symbol of an exorbitant squandering of resources, of waste for the sake of convenience, an unnecessary addition to the global “trashbergs” floating in the oceans and a threat to marine life and human health. To produce these bags, oil, energy and water are required, and the greenhouse gas CO2 is produced.

A mandatory fee on plastic bags would serve as a signal that it is time for an attitude shift — away from a throw-away society toward sustainable practices. Reusable alternatives to plastic bags are readily available, in form of cloth bags or other containers. We simply cannot afford “free” plastic bags any longer.

Hildegard Sellner

Juneau

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