Ban Plastic Grocery Bags in Austin!

  • by: Care2.com
  • recipient: Lee Leffingwell, Mayor, Austin City Council
Single-use plastic bags are everywhere, with between 500 billion and a trillion produced worldwide each year. Most are used to carry groceries from grocery stores to cars and homes. Although many are reused, countless more end up as litter, where they choke or starve sea life and spread nonnative species around the world.

Sixty to eighty percent of all debris in the ocean is plastic. In fact, the Pacific Trash Vortex - a floating island of trash spread over an area the size of Texas - is believed to be predominantly composed of plastic. The decomposition process takes hundreds of years and produces "microplastic," tiny particles that seep irevocably into the surrounding environment. In the meantime, the plastic serves as a sort of sponge, absorbing toxic chemicals that further damage the animals that ingest them. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that over a million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year due to ingesting plastics or becoming entangled in them.

Plastic bags are either restricted or completely banned in more than 25 percent of the world, including Italy, Belgium, and South Africa. Sign this petition to help us pressure Mayor Lee Leffingwell to ban the use of plastic bags in Austin!
"Paper or plastic?" This ubiquitious question is part of what has led to a simple and useful product becoming a source of massive global pollution. Now that we are aware of the environmental costs of this incredibly successful product, progressive countries and municipalities are finally starting to regulate plastic bag usage.

Plastic bags can be reused, and often are. However, many millions escape both reuse and landfills to end up as litter. This is particularly harmful to our ocean wildlife. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that over a million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year due to ingesting plastics or becoming entangled in them. Additionally, 65 percent of the plastic on beaches is in fact microscopic in nature. Marine animals ingest this inadvertantly, and we turn ingest many marine animals. Rather than just going in one end and out the other, this plastic has been shown to contain carcinogenic chemicals that can disrupt the body's hormonal messaging system. Although this isn't a big problem now, it is very possible that these microscopic plastic levels could get built up to a point where impacts on humans are significant.

It is time to join the progressive nations and municipalities who have imposed a ban on all plastic grocery bags. The problem isn't a lack of alternatives - there are a plethora of bags out there made from cloth, biodegradable polymer, starches, recycled products, and other resources that are renewable. The problem is a change in mindset.

We urge you to be on the right side of history and vote to ban all plastic bags in Austin!
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