The End is Near for Plastic Bags and Straws

The End is Near for Plastic Bags and Straws
May 29, 2018 Christina Mullin

We all know that plastic bags and plastic straws are harming the environment, but did you know some of these statistics:

– It’s estimated that a trillion bags are used each year globally.

-The average American throws away 10 single use plastic bags per week, but New Yorkers use twice the national average. Some 23 billion are used across the state each year- more than enough, when tied together to stretch to the moon and back 13 times. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to introduce a bag fee but it was stymied by opposition from the “big plastic” lobby.

-After Ireland introduced a 15-euro cent fee per plastic bag in 2002, annual use dropped an estimated 328 to 14 per person by 2014.

-The average Dane uses just four single-use plastic bags a year, after the introduction of a fee in 1994.

-A remarkable 91 percent of Irish citizens welcomed the bag fee because they witnessed the drop in litter and found reusable bags more suitable for carrying groceries.

-Last year, Kenya banned plastic bags

-In the United States, California is the only state to have imposed a comprehensive solution to the plastic bag problem, banning single-use plastic bags in stores in 2014.

And this really gets me…Did you know that retailers pay up to 5 cents per plastic bag, but the cost is hidden, passed onto shoppers through higher grocery prices.

Times are changing. Just as it became socially unacceptable to smoke indoors, the use of plastic bags and plastic straws will slowly be phased out over time once the government moves to restrict them.

Some stats about Plastic Straws…

-The United States goes through over 500 million plastic straws every day.

-Businesses in the New York City would be barred from using disposable plastic straws and plastic coffee stirrers under a bill set to be introduced Wednesday, May 30th, in the City Council.

-In Britain, several British corporations- including Waitrose, London City Airport, McDonald’s UK and Coast Coffee- banned plastic straws.

-In mid-April, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a ban on the sale of plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton swabs, and called on the 52 Commonwealth nations to implement similar measures.

-As mentioned in the Spring Almanac Issue, Queen Elizabeth issued a royal decree banning plastic straws and bottles from all royal estates.

-Big chain hotels are slowly catching up. The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts announced a ban on plastic straws from all of its properties; Anantara Hotels will remove straws from its properties by the end of 2018, and Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, will eliminate single-use plastics by 2019, which includes phasing out mini plastic shampoo bottles.

-Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. airline to make major moves towards plastic-free drink service.

What’s surprising is how resistant most of the travel industry is to change. People go on a cruise, for example, to see beautiful islands, clear waters and gorgeous beaches. Doesn’t the travel industry realize, from cruise lines, to airlines and hotels, that they have a direct stake in keeping these places pristine.

Tips for reducing our plastic footprint:

*Bring your own reusable cloth bags to the market

*Forego plastic bags of all sizes

*Forego plastic straws, and/or request “no straw” please when ordering a drink.

*Forego plastic stirrers and polystyrene cups

*Bring your own reusable coffee, or tea mug when you go out

*Bring your own stainless steel or glass reusable water bottle when you go out

*Invest in reusable glass or stainless steel straws

*Forego plastic food storage containers

(Featured in my book LOLA Lots of Love Always  and written with the help of the

Photo credit: Photographer unknown

Source: NY Times Op-ed. Let’s Bag Plastic Bags by Joseph Curtin

Source: NY Times Travel. Travel Industry is Playing Catch-up on Plastic Straws by Adam H. Graham