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We Are Poisoning Ourselves With Single-Use Plastic Bags

Published: February 28, 2018

To the Editor:

I belong to a group in Newtown that is working to clean up the environment and reverse global warming. It is a daunting challenge. One of the first steps we would like to propose to the town of Newtown is the elimination of single-use plastic bags.

Worldwide, a trillion plastic bags are used each year, nearly two million each minute. Currently, 100 billion pass through the hands of US consumers every year — almost one bag per person per day. Laid end-to-end, they would circle the equator 1,330 times. Most of these bags, as well as other forms of plastic, make their way to the ocean each year, collecting in our seas and poisoning and choking sea animals. And they are built to last — at least 1,000 years!

One of the many problems with plastic ocean pollution is that plastic breaks down into little pieces which is then eaten by fish and other sea creatures. Guess who’s eating the fish? We are, of course. So the circle is complete — we are actually poisoning ourselves.

The elimination of single-use plastic bags is trending across the world and across our country. Many countries have already taken this step. Denmark was the first in 1993. Other countries have followed, including China, Macedonia, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and 17 African countries.

Several provinces in Canada have worked to severely limit usage. Many European cities and countries tax plastic bags or ban free distribution. The EU Parliament is discussing measures that could require member states to cut plastic bag use by 80 percent by 2019.

In addition, over 150 US cities and counties currently ban or require fees for plastic bags. California passed the first statewide ban in 2014, though Hawaii had a de facto ban through county ordinances. Over 49 million Americans live in communities that have already passed plastic bag bans or fees.

Many of us regularly shop at Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Aldi, where they don’t offer plastic bags. We have accepted this and learned to do without them.

Thus far, only Westport has passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in Connecticut, although many other communities are working on one. Newtown can and should do the same. We owe it to ourselves, our community, and our planet — but most of all, we owe it to our children.


Lynn Hungaski
Valley View Road, Newtown    February 27, 2018

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