Letters to the Editor

Federal Way should ban disposable plastic bags | Letters

Plastic bags - Courtesy photo
Plastic bags
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Now is the time for new year’s resolutions and I have a suggestion: stop using disposable plastic bags.

Like many of you, I have a seemingly endless supply of plastic bags taking up room in my pantry, waiting for me to one day have need to re-use them. I hate to throw them away knowing the damage they do to the environment and wildlife. Taking them to the grocery store to recycle once seemed like a viable solution, but I’ve recently learned that plastic bags are very difficult to recycle because they get tangled in the gears and mess up the entire system.

Plastic pollution is a growing threat to whales, birds and other marine wildlife. In April 2010, a beached grey whale in West Seattle was found with 20 plastic bags in its stomach, highlighting this terrible problem.

We can cut the flow of plastic pollution and help protect wildlife and our environment by taking a simple step: banning disposable plastic bags.

The average person uses 500 plastic bags a year and less than 5 percent of all plastic bags are recycled while the rest end up in the Sound or clogging up landfills. Plastic litter in the water breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, but scientists believe it may never fully biodegrade.  Plastic grocery bags, if exposed to ultraviolet light, have been estimated to break down in as little as 500 years with a conservative average time of 1,000 years. If there is no exposure to a light source, say at the bottom of a landfill, the plastic may remain intact indefinitely.

It makes no sense when reusable alternatives are readily available.  Nothing we use for 5 minutes should end up in the belly of a whale.  If we ban plastic bags, we can reduce plastic pollution, save marine wildlife and protect Puget Sound for future generations.

Seven cities including Seattle, Edmonds and Bellingham have already passed ordinances to ban disposable plastic bags. Federal Way should do the same.

We will be working to pass an ordinance through the city council that bans single-use plastic bags. If you are interested in helping the cause, please contact Robb Krehbiel at Environment Washington at (206) 568-2850 ext. 2013.

Rachel Wilson, unincorporated King County (Auburn mailing address)


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