Last week in Rhode Island, a bill was introduced to the House of Representatives that would ban plastic checkout bags statewide.  Environment Rhode Island has been working tirelessly to educate our state about the issue and encourage passage of the bill. Tonight I attended a letter-writing party and submitted the following letter to the editor to the Sakonnet Times;

To the editor,

Growing up in Tiverton, some of my fondest memories occurred near the water, playing on the seawall in front of my parent’s house and spending long summer days at Fogland Beach. I have no doubt that the time I spent in these gorgeous settings is what lead me to pursue a career in marine science and conservation, so I could better understand and protect this important resource. Right now, our entire state has an opportunity to protect it too.

Last week, a bill was introduced that would ban plastic bags at every store’s checkout counter. This announcement came one day after the nonprofit group Environment Rhode Island delivered a petition signed by 10,000 Rhode Islanders who support the ban.

Plastic bags are a significant problem in our state for several reasons. Besides being an eyesore, they also clog storm drains and tax our water treatment systems. But the worst effects occur when they reach our beloved Narragansett Bay. Once these bags make it to our waterways, they choke and entangle important marine life that we depend on for tourism and sustenance. Plastic bags do not biodegrade, but break into tiny pieces that absorb toxic pollutants in the water and accumulate up the marine food chain.

Plastic bag bans have successfully passed in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and our very own Barrington RI, but we have an unprecedented opportunity to pass the first statewide ban.  Please call your local representatives in support of the ban on plastic checkout bags. I can’t think of a better way to show appreciation for our Ocean State.

Caitlin Luderer Mandel

If you are local, I ask that you please consider contacting your local representative to voice your support for this bill.  It’s an exciting opportunity to be the first whole state to ban these destructive and unnecessary items.

image credit: Surfrider Foundation