Once again, when it comes to the environment, the Republic of California is one step ahead of the rest of the nation. By passing Proposition 67 in 2014, California placed a ban on the use of plastic bags. Nearly four years later a few local towns in are beginning to catch up. The town of New Castle has already succeeded in reducing the use of the harmful bags effective January 1, 2017. It seems as though Briarcliff may be next.
Every single piece of plastic ever manufactured is still somewhere on the earth. Plastic does not biodegrade, but photodegrade, meaning that in the presence of light, plastic merely breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, never actually disintegrating. These particles are spread across the globe, impacting universally all ecosystems and having a heavy impact on marine life. Many are unaware of the magnitude of theproblem. The North Pacific Gyreand other ocean currents have carried 1,600,000 square miles of plastic (approximately two times the size of Texas or three times the size of France) and trapped it in what has become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. These small particles of plastic are often mistaken for food and inevitably become fatal once consumed in large quantities by aquatic life. Paper bags are better than plastic in large part because of their ability to biodegrade and be recycled. However, their production consumes lots of water and their weight greatly impacts transportation, preventing them from being a sustainable alternative. The bag issue is a problem that needs to be solved before it inevitably consumes more of one of Earth’s most precious resources: the ocean.
One of the pioneers of this movement is the Sendek family. Longtime friends of the environment, the family is now looking to spread their consciousness throughout the community. Following in the footsteps of activists in New Castle and mirroring the progress being made in Pleasantville, Briarcliff is proposing legislation that would ban single use plastic bags in all stores and introduce a 10-cent tax on paper bags in certain stores. The group, in conjunction with the BHS Treehuggers Club, has been assessing the opinion of the community through petitions and surveys. These surveys are given to merchants to determine the extent to which a ban would affect their business. It is typical for store owners to be slightly more reluctant to support the movement, but through education they soon realize the positives of the movement quickly outweigh any negatives or hesitations.
On wellness day at Briarcliff Middle School, the reusable bag initiative is hoping to stage an contest for a new logo. The winning design will become the official logo of the movement and will be hopefully printed on reusable bags, posters, flyers, etc. It will also be incorporated into the education campaign of the initiative.
Briarcliff’s reusable bag initiative is a great stride in the right direction. Who knows, maybe another group will be brave enough to take down plastic straws.