Intern Blog! Hawaii Bans Plastic Bags

110315-N-IC111-592 WAKUYA, Japan (March 15, 2011) An aerial view of damage to Wakuya, Japan after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the area in northern Japan. Ships and aircraft from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group are conducting search and rescue operations and re-supply missions as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi throughout northern Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd/Released)

As of July 1st, Hawaii has become the first state to completely abolish plastic bags at grocery checkouts.  California’s ban, which was passed by the state legislature, has been postponed due to a ballot referendum in November 2016.  Hawaii’s ban was established on the county level.  This is a great example of decision-makers and local activists addressing the serious issue of plastic pollution.

Plastic isn’t biodegradable, but is one of the most ubiquitous materials that can be found virtually anywhere in today’s society.  The US is one of the most accountable contributors to ocean garbage patches, especially the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  This particular garbage patch is twice the size of Texas, and is visible from space.  This is only one of many garbage patches floating in the oceans around Earth, and although many may not know or acknowledge it, they have serious health effects on marine animals that span the entire food chain.  Despite many people conscientiously reusing plastic bags, there is a high probability they end up in landfills or the ocean garbage patches.

With the current rate of pollution and waste damaging our environment, this is especially great for the state of Hawaii, whose borders are completely surrounded by the ocean and marine life.  Hawaii needs to maintain its reputation and image of natural beauty, and it’s great to know that we will be seeing less and less plastic floating around our streets, sidewalks, beaches, parks, and oceans from now on.  Reusable bags that can be stored in car trunks or hung on door knobs prior to going grocery shopping are friendlier to the environment, and using them is an adjustment we are all certainly more than capable of doing.  This ban is undoubtedly a step in the right direction regarding protecting the environment.

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