Use reusable bags – please | AspenTimes.com

Use reusable bags – please

Dear Editor:

We are four students from Aspen High School, freshmen and sophomores, who have become concerned with Aspen’s plastic and paper bag usage. In the United States 40 billion grocery bags are used each year; 30 billion are plastic, 10 billion are paper. Worldwide, between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed annually (HealthGuidance). There is a common misconception that paper bags are better for the environment compared to plastic bags, and vice versa. Paper may consume more resources to produce; however, it is also more recyclable than plastic if you include the fact that paper can be composted and plastic bags cannot (Greenfeet). The truth is that they are equally damaging to the environment.

Not all trash ends up in landfills. In fact, in the United States only about 80 percent does. Stray plastic bags, which have been estimated at 1 to 3 percent of the hundreds of billions that are produced each year, are now found almost everywhere on the planet, including Aspen (Environmental Literacy Council). More than 100,000 whales, seals, turtles, birds and other wildlife are killed by plastic bags each year (HealthGuidance). One of the greatest parts of Aspen is the magnificent wildlife, yet we slowly eliminate it every time we go to the grocery store and use plastic and paper grocery bags. Not only wildlife is affected by plastic bags; plastic bags are the second-leading cause of suffocation among babies (HealthGuidance).

There are many obvious reasons why reusable bags are the better option. Other than the environmental benefit, they’ll hold from 25 to 40 pounds and last for years. Most can be machine-washed and can be kept in the car, glove compartment, purse or backpack (Greenfeet).

We are here to ask if the Aspen City Council will enact laws to lessen or even eliminate plastic bags and require all shoppers to use reusable bags. On Sunday, Oct. 10, organizations around the country volunteered to raise awareness in their respective cities. In Aspen, the organization CORE hosted various service projects and a Skico screening at the Limelight Lodge. As representatives of the student body in Aspen, we gave out free reusable bags in front of Clark’s Market and City Market.

Eli Kaplan, Victor Robinson, Michael Mondry and Gus Gregory

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