2012-02-09 / Letters to the Editor

Ban on plastic bags would help protect bay

With Rhode Island’s miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, our marine environment is a precious resource. Protecting our beautiful and economically essential waters such as Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound needs to be a top priority. Unfortunately, plastic pollution litters these treasured natural places – and far too much of this trash comes from single-use plastic bags that are used for just five minutes before being thrown away.

When these bags enter the marine environment, they slowly photo-degrade – never fully disappearing, but breaking down into smaller and smaller fragments that permeate the water and enter the food chain. Both fish and filter feeders such as quahogs are vulnerable to toxic pollutants like DDT and PCB often absorbed by the plastic bits, putting at risk the entire food chain – which includes us.

Nothing as unnecessary and wasteful as plastic bags should be threatening our health, our environment and our valuable marine resources. Luckily, there is a simple solution: We can eliminate the problem by banning disposable plastic bags so that people switch to reusable ones. Towns like Jamestown can lead the way by enacting bag ban ordinances.

Aaron Yang

Environment Rhode Island

Providence

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