Spring is finally here and many of us are preparing to spend another glorious summer on the beaches of Puget Sound. The Puget Sound is an incredibly diverse and beautiful environment. It is resilient to a point but not limitless in its ability to balance itself as our human actions continue to compound stresses and toxic effects of the residues of modern life.
One such toxic stress is discarded plastic materials, such as disposable plastic bags. Fewer than 5 percent of these bags are recycled. Plastic bags, after initial use, go into landfills, are scattered around our communities and often end up in the Puget Sound, where sadly they litter the beaches and all too often end up in the stomachs of creatures such as grey whales or sea birds, where their presence may contribute to the untimely death of these creatures.
One beached gray whale in West Seattle was found to have 20 plastic bags in its stomach and more than one in 10 gulls in the Strait of Juan de Fuca were found to have eaten plastic, 50 percent of which was thin film used to make disposable plastic bags.
Using multi-use shopping bags and banning disposable plastic bags would greatly reduce the number of bags that end up in the environment and will help assure that no more whales or seabirds are harmed by them.