One of the most important aspects of the fight to protect our environment comes from policy decisions made by local, statewide, and federal legislators. While the Georgia Legislature is in session, one of the bills we are paying close attention to is SB 104, the bill introduced by State Senator Donzella James to prohibit the distribution of single use plastic bags like the kind you get at the grocery store. You can contact your State Senator to ask them to move forward with SB 104 and ban single use plastics in the state of Georgia.
THE DANGER POSED BY PLASTIC
Environmentalists have been concerned for a while now about these bags breaking down into smaller pieces that wind up in the ocean and harm ecosystems. But according to a recent article by Alison Pearce Stevens, “it’s not just the plastic pieces that pose a problem. Intact plastics can release pollution — tens of thousands of chemicals. And those pollutants likely end up in water and food”. The new study detailed in this article found that when plastic bags are placed in certain conditions, like in direct sunlight or in seawater, the plastic itself releases tens of thousands of different chemicals and additives into the environment around them.
While many of the exact risks of microplastics are still unknown, what is clear is that eliminating them would greatly benefit both our own health and our environment’s cleanliness. When State Senator James introduced this bill last year, she noted that similar plastic bag ban bills have “passed in several states and their statistics proved they are working. I know it will work for us [in Georgia]”. So far, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont have banned these types of plastic bags, and so have more than 30 countries around the world.
BANNING SINGLE USE PLASTICS IS GOOD FOR OUR PLANET
Closer to home, the City of South Fulton has banned plastic cups and straws, food containers as well as grocery, newspaper, door-hanger and laundry and dry-cleaning bags. The press release from the city notes that “Americans use more than 100 billion plastic shopping bags and 25 billion expanded polystyrene cups every year, in addition to 500 million plastic straws every day. Many of those items end up in storm drains, along roadsides and in other areas, where they pose a threat to wildlife. These and other environmental concerns have led cities, states and countries around the world to adopt legislation banning or restricting packaging containing single use plastics”.
It’s time that we make this a statewide issue and ban single use plastics across the state of Georgia. We urge you to contact your State Senator to ask them to move forward with SB 104 and ban single use plastics in the state of Georgia. You can also go to gcvoters.org/legislative to learn more about what’s going on in the Georgia legislature.