I am writing to encourage people in our community to join Citizens Against Ruining the Environment – CARE to eliminate the use of disposable plastic shopping bags in Will and surrounding counties.
A major problem with the plastic bags is that only a small percentage of them are recycled, although collection bins are available for plastic bag recycling at some major grocery stores. Therefore, our landfills are filled with plastic bags and other plastic items that are not recycled.
Plastic bags take 1,000 years to photodegrade (break into smaller and smaller pieces). Every year, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the U.S., but only 1 billion pounds are recycled. Also, because plastic bags use oil in their manufacturing, we are using 12 million barrels of oil to make plastic bags.
Anyone who has driven past farmer’s fields in our area, and frequented natural areas, or in their own community, has seen fields littered and despoiled by plastic bags caught in bushes. Besides being unsightly, plastic bags kill wildlife when they fly into woods, streams, the Great Lakes and oceans. Small pieces of plastic are eaten by birds and fish, and enter the food chain right into you!
Alternatives to plastic disposable shopping bags include the use of cloth bags, which last years before they fall apart or for store owners to charge customers for paper bags, if they don’t bring their own shopping bags. If the paper bags are made from 100 percent recycled paper, then trees are not cut down to make the paper bags.
For an incentive to customers who bring their own bags, stores could give customers a raffle ticket for a chance to win a store gift card.
CARE meets at White Oak Library in Lockport on the third Monday of the month 6-7:30 p.m.
Jenifer Garlitz and Mary Burnitz
Citizens Against Ruining the Environment