Alaskan City Bans Plastic Bags

Posted by — July 30, 2009 4:05 pm

Many U.S. cities have spent the past year banning plastic bags. One city has succeeded, and refuses to let the thousands of miles of wild, untamed land stay polluted. The Bethel city government in Alaska decided to ban plastic bags and other single-use waste two weeks ago.

The town has taken a step farther than any other U.S. city by also banning the dispersal of foam to-go containers from restaurants. The measure goes into effect next September 2010.

In the small town of Bethel, with a less than 6,000 people, the measure was incremental. The city has no structured waste management system. The people who live there take their garbage to local dump sites, where trash is at the mercy of wind and animals, dragging it miles into pristine habitats and disgracing the overall landscape.

This is not the first time citizens and government have made objections to the single-use waste. Eight years ago, a similar measure was proposed, but was struck down by businesses that were opposed to it.

One Bethel citizen, quoted in the Anchorage Daily News, said she was not surprised by the bag ban due to rising awareness of plastic waste affecting the environment and the rise of reusable products on the market.

“It’s throughout our food chain now. It’s in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, it’s in the plankton,” said Bethel citizen Kathy Hanson.

Bethel isn’t the first city in Alaska to bring plastic bags to the political forefront. Hooper Bay banned plastic bags earlier this summer due to its overwhelming presence in the local environment. Plastic waste has washed up on the coast and many have found pieces of plastic weaved into bird’s nests.

Beyond the environmental impact of plastic bags, there’s one plain truth that everyone can agree: they’re unsightly.

David Stovner, of the Bethel recycling center said, “It looks like white geese out there. Eight million of them.” (Anchorage Daily News)

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