February 1, 2017
From The Cloud Gate (most of you may know it as the giant bean) to it’s iconic Frank Loyd Wright skyline, Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. The only thing that could mar this city’s impressive features is a bunch of trash getting blown around the streets by its equally famous counterpart – the wind. However, Chicago has taken this problem in hand and on February 1st, a $.07 tax per disposable bag – plastic and paper – went into effect at all retail locations in the city.
To further incentivise consumers, the city is handing out 25,o00 reusable “Chi Bags” outside of several Chicago Transportation Authority stations across the city. Retailers in the city are also helping ease shoppers into this new tax. Target is handing out reusable bags to the first 200 customers at each of its 16 locations in the city and Whole Foods has guaranteed to give the first 1,000 people in each its 12 Chicago locations a reusable tote. The city hopes that this tax will dissuade shoppers from using these disposable bags – and empirical evidence shows the tax will be effective.
California and Michigan both instituted a ban on plastic bags last year and both states met with success. Across the pond, Britan banned plastic bags with a stunning effect – they saw a 50 percent reduction in the consumption of plastic bags. These bans are not just for aesthetic reasons, plastic bags are incredibly harmful to marine environments around the globe.
Every year, we consume 100 billion plastic bags and while we may only use them for a few minute, they stick around in the environment for much, much longer than that. After being thrown out, most plastic bags make their way into our oceans where they choke, entrap, and strangle marine life. Plastic bags combine with the rest of the 8.8 million tons of plastic waste we toss in our oceans annually to create a huge problem for our oceans’ ecosystems. Currently, over 800 species are threatened by plastic pollution and over 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.
This is why plastic bag bans like the one in Chicago are so important. But even if you’re not in Chicago you can help to keep plastic out of our oceans and save marine life! Bring a disposable tote with you when you every time you go shopping and you will effectively keep 330 plastic bags from entering the ocean. For more tips on how to keep plastic out of your life and our planet’s waterways, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.