Heart-wrenching videos of turtles with straws stuck in their heads or birds with their necks caught in plastic bags shed light on the seriousness of the ocean’s problem with trash. However, a new plastic bag ban for Washington state could reduce the amount of plastic waste that is left behind by Washingtonians.
According to the Seattle Times, the Democratic controlled government legislation wants to reduce the amount of microplastics that end up in the oceans or on the coasts. Many grocery stores, including Safeway, support this bill. If passed, the bill would ban single-use plastic bags and charge a 10 cent fee for paper bags. However, Todd Myers, the environmental director of the Washington Policy Center, disagrees with the bill and believes that using a biodegradable plastic bag would be better for the environment.
Currently, EWU uses biodegradable grocery bags, utensils and cups. EWU is also making recycling more available to students in residence halls in an effort to become more environmentally responsible.
Marissa Elsinghort, a senior and the vice president of the ECOeagles Club, said that the public should be more educated about where the waste ends up.
“Currently we’re already in a state of crisis with landfills filling up and new ones opening all the time, trash getting dumped in the ocean and in third-world countries,” Elsinghort said. “Although taxing the single use plastic bags isn’t the save all solution, it does make a difference and brings awareness to one of the most important issues our planet faces. The bags currently used on campus are somewhat helping the situation, but it is still creating more waste than there needs to be.”
Erik Budsberg, the Sustainability coordinator for EWU, encourages multiple use bags or items.
“Promoting the decreased use of single-use disposable plastic bags and increased use of durable reusable bags has multiple benefits for the communities and the environment,” Budsberg said. “Decreased use of single-use disposable plastic bags means a reduction in the use of resources to produce an item that is in general intended to be used for a short period of time and then disposed of.”
The campus here at EWU may be affected by the legislation, but the school will continue the use of their biodegradable bags for the time being. This is just the latest of efforts across Washington state to encourage its residents to be more environmentally friendly.