Plastic bags should be banned across the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Stockman, Flickr

As a nation of 327.2 million people and counting, we should follow New York’s example of discontinuing the use of plastic bags.

Nearly two weeks ago, it was determined that New York would become the second state to ban plastic bags, second to California who implemented the statewide ban in 2016. The ban was introduced in Albany this past Tuesday, with further plans to have the bill advance throughout the entire state.

This bag ban follows the failed attempt to charge a five-cent fee for every plastic bag from earlier in 2017, though major U.S. cities like Washington D.C. and Seattle still  enforce the law.

Some private businesses also practice a fee on all bags used. For example, Disney stores charge 99 cents for reusable bags, and the Danish store Flying Tiger Copenhagen, with several locations in New York, charges a nickel for every bag.

One plastic bag can take up to nearly one thousand years to decompose, according to the New York Times. Every plastic you use at the supermarket or hoard somewhere in your home will outlive you, even though plastic bags are used on average for only twelve minutes, according to the Center For Biological Diversity.

The use of plastic straws is also being reconsidered, and they could possibly be banned alongside plastic bags. National Geographic reported that an estimated 500 million straws are used every single day in the U.S. alone.

According to Green Sheep Water, a water distribution company that bottles water in aluminum cans to try and reduce plastic usage, the U.S. population alone is consuming more than 1,500 water bottles per second. It is vital to remember plastic waste does not magically dissolve upon its arrival at the nearest landfill.

Did you want to go swimming last summer? This past year some of our very own Jersey shores were closed due to pollution. Thirteen New Jersey beaches were closed off from the public when an alarming overflow of trash washed up. The garbage was later revealed to contain medical waste, including needles. National Geographic also confirmed that plastic trash have polluted our oceans.

We are up to our necks in plastic. It’s not just in our oceans: it’s causing harm everywhere. Plastic containers are used to store our food, our drinking water is contained in plastic, we hang our everyday clothes on plastic hangers and children play with plastic toys. We eat, sweat and breathe plastic.

This is not an argument or debate up for discussion. This is a state of emergency. We are producing more waste than we can account for.  With a businessman of a president, it is crucial now more than ever that we do something.

A few major companies are at fault for 71 percent of the globe’s pollution, according to the Guardian. If our government refuses to do anything about climate change, we citizens have to do something about it. Every little bit counts, and it starts with a reusable bag.