I have come to the revelation that the time has come for Boulder to eliminate plastic shopping bags. Some may wonder—is it necessary to pass a ban on something as frivolous as a bag?
Indeed, the intrinsic trivial nature of plastic bags combined with their detrimental environmental effects provides an overwhelming yes. An insignificant plastic bag that is used for maybe ten minutes will take around 1,000 years to biodegrade in a landfill. This above all indicates that we can afford to change—altering a small habit can result in a massive difference.
The current system makes it too easy for people to overlook the evils of disposable bags. Ninety-seven percent of all bags used are plastic. Even in Boulder alone, an estimated 45 million plastic bags are used each year. Additionally, according to an EPA study in 2009, only 13% in the US are recycled.
So, it is evident to me that legislation that puts a ban or fee on single-use shopping bags is necessary to facilitate behavior. I seriously doubt people would grieve their plastic bags, and we could divert millions of bags from the land fill each year.
Already in other US cities and in several countries such as Ireland, Italy, Australia, and China, bans and fees on plastic bags have made a tremendous difference in reducing the usage of plastic bags. I can’t help but to wonder—since when is China ahead of Boulder on addressing environmental issues? This is Boulder’s opportunity to live up to its name as a green city and take action to become a model for surrounding cities. Let’s take part in this “flippant battle” and bag it.
Fairview Net Zero Club, Boulder