There are currently 270,000 tons of plastic floating in the oceans, and that’s just on the surface of the water, and this waste threatens over 800 million marine animals. While this mess is made up of a myriad of different disposable plastics, plastic bags are amongst the more deadly types of pollution.
After plastic bags enter the ocean they float through the waters eerily, it’s almost like they come alive – at least that’s what the marine life think when they are looking for a bite to eat. Numerous different species of marine life mistake plastic bags for jellyfish or squid and try to eat them. Once inside an animal’s digestive track, the bags wreak havoc on their digestive system and often kill the unsuspecting sea creature. Scientist estimate that over 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their systems and a postmortem autopsy of a whale in Norway revealed that is had 30 plastic bags trapped inside of its digestive tract.
Because of the inherent dangers plastic bags bring with them, nations, cities, and individuals have been trying to come up with a solution to get rid of this harmful excuse of a convenience. The U.K. adopted a small tax on plastic bags and saw a reduction in consumption of over 50 percent, while India’s capital, Dehli went a step further and banned all disposable plastics.
Due to the success of these programs NYC had decided to institute a nickel fee for every disposable plastic bag used at a retail location. This seemingly reasonable step toward reducing plastic waste in the city was met with a startling amount of resistance. The tax was supposed to go into effect on February 12, 2017, but Senator Simcha Felde has successfully championed a bill that effectively kills the legislation. The Democrat from Brooklyn argued that this legislation would disproportionately affect the poor and that his constituents needed all of their nickels to buy food.
This is flat out false. The bill provided exemptions to the 1.8 million New Yorkers who are currently using food stamps. The bill also made preparations to distribute thousands of reusable tote bags to NYC residents. But don’t disparage, fellow New Yorkers – there is still hope for a cleaner, environmentally conscious future for our bustling metropolis.
Governor Andrew Cuomo still has a chance to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat with a single pen stroke. He has the opportunity to veto the bill that prohibits this reasonable tax – and you can make this happen! If you’re in NYC contact your representative and tell them to put pressure on the Governor. You can also contact the Governor directly.
If you are not in NYC, you can still help to keep plastic bags out of our oceans by bringing a reusable tote with you when you go shopping.
For more information on plastic pollution and what you can do to fight against it, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic movement.
Image source: MOHAMED ABDULRAHEEM/Shutterstock