As we begin the New Year, we look forward to starting afresh. Perhaps we have in mind developing better habits, achieving a particular goal, or experiencing new things. I’ll be working on shedding plastic from my life. First a novelty, then a convenience, and now a plague – throw-away plastics have become (for me, anyway) an emblem of what ails us. The Guardian published a piece this week on the “wave of revulsion” that plastic bags have triggered globally, noting that a growing awareness of plastic pollution is resulting in worldwide efforts to ban or tax the plastic bag.
The Impact of Plastic Bags – from ‘Message in the Waves’ by Rebecca Hosking.
The Guardian’s article credits the efforts of a single person, Rebecca Hosking, with getting the ball rolling on plastic bag bans. Hosking, a British filmmaker who co-produced a nature film about the Hawaiian islands for the BBC in 2006, visited the Midway atoll, and was appalled by what she found there. (You can see her entire 48 minute documentary, Hawaii: Message in the Waves, online). When she returned home to her town of Modbury, she successfully committed herself to ending the distribution of disposable plastic bags by every retail establishment there.
As it happens, the Hawaii County Council just this week voted to ban plastic bags used at all check-out stands on the Big Island. Kauai and Maui counties already have bag bans in place. If Hawaii’s Mayor Billy Kenoi signs the bill into law, Honolulu will be the only county in the state that has yet to enact similar legislation. Go for it, Hawaii, trashy plastics have no place in paradise!
UPDATE: On January 18, 2012, The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported on Mayor Kenoi’s decision to “ok” the plastic bag ban. The law, authored by Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, will go into effect in 2013, allowing for transition time and further education on the issue. Wrote Mayor Kenoi, “In the end this bill is not about plastic bags, politics or the Hawaii City Council. It’s about protecting our beautiful island.”
UPDATE: March 25, 2012, Honolulu enacts legislation to ban single-use plastic bags which will take effect July 1, 2015. This makes the state of Hawaii the first to have statewide restrictions on plastic bags.