Should Lexington join cities like Los Angeles and 47 others in California that have banned single-use plastic grocery bags?
The Good Foods Market & Cafe has wrestled with the issue, finding middle ground by donating a dime to charity when shoppers bring in reusable bags.
Other cities charge for plastic bags. At press time, only Hawaii, a state surrounded by delicate and endangered maritime environments, has banned plastic bags entirely.
A local ban would reduce plastic litter in Lexington streets, trees, waterways and clogged storm drains. We all know how terrible plastic bags are for the environment — they don't break down in landfills or in oceans. But did you know they also increase our demand for oil? A ban on grocery bags in China four years ago has saved 3.6 million tons of crude oil in the first three years, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 10 million tons. Both Ireland and cites in India and Mexico have followed suit.
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The world's major oceans are full of plastic waste that amounts to a colossal synthetic soup.
Known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," some areas have concentrations of plastic 40 times greater than that of plankton. That means there is 40 times more plastic than food for the marine animals. More than 260 species of marine animals are affected by plastic debris in the ocean, either by ingestion or entanglement. Eighty percent of the plastic and trash that finds its way into our oceans comes from the land — our cities.
Human health is at risk as well: BPA and phthalates are two plastic additives that are known endocrine disruptors. We all come into contact with these toxic chemicals through our food, personal care products, plastic bags and containers. Inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin.
Whether used to tote a prescription, a quart of milk or the ever-so-convenient pet poop bag, can Lexington kick its cultural love affair with plastic?
Join the Good Foods Board Film Series for a free screening of BAG IT at 6 p.m. June 26 at the Downtown Central Library to learn more about alternative solutions. Barry Prater, LFUCG recycling commodities manager; Steve Davis, program director, Bluegrass Career Development Center; and Dan Arnett, Good Foods Market & Cafe store manager, will be speaking after the film.