The White House recently released studies detailing the widespread and immediate effects of climate change. The release of carbon emissions into our atmosphere is directly causing sea level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather patterns.
We must act to reduce our energy use and minimize, to the extent possible, our consumption levels. In Tacoma we have an opportunity to launch a policy change that will reduce consumption: We can transition from single-use disposable plastic bags and adopt the use of reusable bags.
You may think that the plastic bags with which you carry home your groceries cannot possibly have a meaningful impact on our energy consumption levels. That belief, though, is incorrect.
Plastic bags are manufactured from fossil fuels. The amount of fossil fuels used in the manufacture of just 14 bags would drive a car one mile. The average American family uses roughly 1,500 single-use plastic bags each year. The fossil fuel energy required to manufacture plastic bags for the average American family for a year could power a car more than 100 miles.
Various-sized jurisdictions throughout our region – Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, for example – have already reduced energy consumption by bagging single-use disposable plastic bags; they have not suffered ill consequences. We should demand that the Tacoma City Council move the city away from single-use plastic bags.