It is no longer enough to simply eliminate or reuse single use plastic grocery bags.
Plastic in its many forms is appearing throughout the environment. It is found in snow fall in the Arctic and in the Alps, in the salt spray from the waves that crash on our shores, in agricultural soils, and throughout the water column in our Salish Sea.
Microplastic has been found in seabirds, fish, shellfish and even in Orca Whales and Salmon. It fills stomachs and body cavities of marine life causing starvation that can be fatal. Some waste plastics become a source of entanglement or choking causing injury and death.
Further, the majority of plastic is made from fossil fuels and thus there is known environmental harm from its exploration, extraction, and production. Making plastic, usually from natural gas, benzene and vinyl hydrochloride, is itself a toxic or polluting process with significant and dangerous emissions. And beyond the emissions, the failure to adequately address proper recycling and disposal of plastics after use has polluted the environment.
It is no longer enough to simply eliminate or reuse single use plastic grocery bags, we must eliminate a majority of single use plastics.
It is time for the San Juan Islands to follow numerous other communities around the country and the globe and eliminate all single use plastics.
Potential actions include:
– Eliminate purchase of single-use plastics by 2022
– Install more recycling bins in all County buildings by 2022
– Introduce County Code language recognizing the harmfulness of single-use disposable plastics
– Prohibit single-use plastic food service products with limited time exemption for certain products and off-premises dining
– Require reusable food service products for on-premises dining
– Shift to reusable personal product dispensers in lodging establishments
– Provide education and outreach