Just recently, over 19 aquariums across the nation have joined forces to curb the amount of plastic pollution entering the oceans. As the amount of plastic used by consumers continues to climb with no end in sight, the move by these 19 aquariums could not have come sooner. The aquariums have vowed to not use any plastic shopping bags or plastic straws and have plans to eliminate all plastic beverage bottles by 2020 and showcase “alternatives to single-use plastic” in their facilities.
But, we do not have to wait until 2020 to start making change within our own communities. Many states nationwide have considered whether or not to implement a 10 cents (or less) per bag charge on plastic bags across the board, excluding takeout bags. Many environmentalists have celebrated this much-needed move because of the hundreds of tons of plastic that make their way into landfills every single day. However, opponents point to the possible effects of this charge on low-income families and the possibility of contamination from these reusable bags.
Though the effects of charging a fee for plastic bags are valid, the reason why the fee is being brought into light in the first place should also be treated severely. By charging a fee on plastic bags, communities can significantly reduce plastic pollution that creeps into waterways and threatens wildlife. Consumers, if educated, can prevent contamination from these bags by washing them regularly. And, though the fee might affect low-income families, a one-time payment for 3 reusable bags, often priced at $1, is not as much of a sacrifice as lawmakers make it out to be. All of these fees can be avoided if a reusable bag is brought in the first place.
No one ever said that fighting climate change would be easy. The plastic bag fee is one of the many sacrifices that have to be made in order to support a sustainable future for the generations to come. Lawmakers must continue to push for the plastic bag fee across the board so that America can become a model for a sustainable future that other countries can surely follow.