LETTER: Don’t wait any longer to ban plastic bags

The modern world has a plastic problem, and something needs to happen, now.

At some point, cities in Northern Utah were pushing for a plastic bag ban, but that was before the pandemic altered our priorities. The ban had originally been scheduled to begin in Logan during 2020 but is now postponed to 2022. COVID-19 is not a valid excuse to delay the ban, although I do commend the City Council’s decision to push back rather than forget the bag ban.

Paper bags could easily substitute their plastic counterparts. Plastic bag prohibition would be one easy and small step towards curbing plastic pollution in Utah. While plastic waste is generally an eyesore, the issue is beginning to extend beyond what the eye can see.

The polyethylene bag you grab at the grocery store and other plastic products break down into tiny pieces called microplastics. A team of Utah State University scientists lead by Dr. Janice Brahney estimate that over 1000 tons of microplastics are deposited in our remote wilderness areas each year. Microplastics are in our water, food, and in the air we breathe. You eat about half of a credit card’s worth of microplastics each week.

The longer we wait to act against single-use plastics, the more of an issue this becomes. Tackling the plastic problem has to start somewhere.

Europe and Canada are on track to ban single use plastic items by the end of 2021. The United States currently has no such plan in place; Utah can become the standard and set an example our country desperately needs.

I urge Utahans not to wait for a ban on single use plastic grocery bags to cut them out of your routine. You can help to save the world – find an alternative now to help save the outdoors that we all know and love.

Macy Gustavus – Logan


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5 Comments

  • Charles Strack March 22, 2021 at 6:22 pm Reply

    I’m old enough to remember when plastic bags were not an option–there were only paper bags, and many grocery stores also offered to use the boxes that groceries came in. Paper bags always held more groceries than plastic bags and were stronger. We got along very fine without plastic bags, and should do so again.

  • Bill March 23, 2021 at 7:51 am Reply

    “The optimal quantity of anything is rarely zero”:

    https://www.cato.org/blog/bag-ban-blunder

  • L Allen March 23, 2021 at 8:43 am Reply

    The world has far bigger issues to deal with right now. COVID, race issues, gun violence, employment, a government that is about to bankrupt our country.

    I’m a avid recycler and have been for years. If a plastic cannot be recycled then it should be banned from use. Stop it the source. At the same time plastics are a wonderful product that make life better but lets use the ones that exceed a one and done.

  • Janice March 23, 2021 at 2:35 pm Reply

    Careful, using the term Utahans instead of Utahns lets us know you’re not from here so we don’t have to listen to you.

    Seriously, though, all bags have environmental impact. Reusable cotton bags sound nice, but then they use a ton of water and chemical fertilizers – they are better after the fact but impact the environment more in the manufacturing process. Reusable polyester bags are also plastic; they can be used many times but are made from more plastic than the thin bags are. Any kind of reusable bag spreads disease as nobody washes them but then food leaks on them. Paper bags kill trees, but you can get more groceries in a paper bag than the smaller plastic ones. The so-called single use plastic bags are often used by people at home for many other uses.

    From a cost perspective, single use bags cost about a 1 cent, paper bags about 5 cents, and biodegradable bags about 10 cents.

    The best way to ensure better or desired behavior is to make it easier to behave in the desired way than the way you don’t want. Just banning the undesired behavior isn’t enough. We can switch to paper as you recommend, but is it really better? Is there something else we’re missing that would be an easier way to decrease the impact of plastic on the environment?

  • Blayne March 24, 2021 at 4:13 pm Reply

    I’m guessing Macy also wears 2 or 3 masks at a time, and voted for communist Joe

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