Plastic Bags Threaten SouthCoast Waters

News | New Bedford Standard Times

I commend The Standard-Times for running a story on the problem of plastic pollution in Mahahual, Mexico (“An exquisite Mexico beach, cursed by plastic,” Sunday, Feb. 12), but I would add that pollution threatens our SouthCoast beaches as well.

Single-use plastic bags, handed out carelessly in stores and used for a short amount of time, often end up littering the beaches our towns are so proud of, not to mention our streets, parks and nature preserves.

Worse yet, many bags drift into the Atlantic Ocean, where they, along with other plastic debris, create large plastic garbage patches. These patches harm marine wildlife, upset the ocean ecosystem and threaten commercial fishing.

Don’t underestimate the problem, either — we use 3 million single-use plastic bags every day in Massachusetts alone, and fewer than 6 percent are recycled.

We, the citizens of the “Bay State,” cannot stand by as our waters become polluted and toxic.

That is why groups like MASSPIRG at UMass Dartmouth are calling for simple but effective steps to cut plastic pollution. We urge New Bedford, Dartmouth and other SouthCoast towns to consider resolutions to ban single-use, non-biodegradable plastic bags.

We need a “less use, less waste” approach that emphasizes a permanent solution to protecting our waters. By banning single-use plastic bags and shifting to biodegradable and reusable alternatives, we can make that vision a reality. From Mexico to Massachusetts, the solution is simple: ban the bag.

Andrew White