Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paper or plastic? UN says it shouldn't be a choice

The director of the United Nations Environment Program on Monday urged countries around the world to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. The announcement follows a report from the program that identified these sources cheap and ubiquitous plastic as the most common pollutant plaguing and choking the world's oceans.

And, as anyone who boats or hikes near towns, our own Four Corners chaparral, arroyos, and riversides. reports that "the plastic problem is so bad that a floating island of plastic debris has been discovered in the northern Pacific which is double the size of the United States."

China and Bangladesh have already banned plastic bags, and Ireland has imposed a fee on plastic bags that have reduced use by 90 percent, the article says. In the United States, "San Francisco is the only city to ban plastic bags, although Los Angeles will have a ban in place next year. New York City rejected such a fee on bags last year, but Washington D.C. is considering a 5-cent-fee this week."

An excellent -- and frightening -- article on the effects of plastics in the oceans ran in the May/June 2007 issue of Orion Magazine. Read that here.
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