Yesterday morning, we gathered with Baltimore City residents, advocates, Council members, state delegates, and Mayor Young for the final signing of legislation we've been working for over the past six months: the Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act! This city legislation bans plastic checkout bags in Baltimore, and puts a 5-cent fee on paper and other bags to make up the extra cost of purchasing these bags on stores, and encourage the use of reusable bags.
In our efforts to reduce waste, we have often heard people say that the “real” problem is the people who throw their garbage on the sidewalk and out their car windows. Of course, we agree that we should change this behavior, but the truth is that littering is not the real problem. We need to change the entire system because the plastic trash that floats in the world's oceans actually decompose and release potentially toxic substances into the water.
The ReThink Disposable team has been hard at work encouraging businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws. One of our greatest lessons learned these past few months is that every voice counts. This Spring, not only did we speak with business owners, we partnered up with local fifth grade students eager to spread the word to help save marine life.
Since I started my new role as Clean Water Action's ReThink Disposable Coordinator, I’ve been talking with many business owners and people in the community about the very exciting topic of waste, in particular, single-use disposables like plastic straws, cutlery and bags and foam take out containers. I’m happy to find shared values when it comes to wanting to prevent trash from entering our waterways and filling up our ocean.
Every day in the U.S., people use 500 million straws a day - enough to circle to planet more than two-and-a-half times! Straws are now one of the top 10 marine debris items found on our beaches. And by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
So, what do we do about it?