Mamma Mia! Following in the footsteps of The L.A. County Board of Supervisors, our Italian friends have taken quite a bold and progressive step towards the betterment of our world's environment. They have banned single use plastic bags. What a great way to start the New Year, as this ban went into effect on New Years Day.
Italians use a staggering 20 billion plastic bags per year, which breaks down to 400 plastic bags a year per person. Until now, Italy has been responsible for 25% of all plastic bag production in Europe.
So what's the problem with plastic bags? Just about everything. Because they don't decompose, they cause major environmental damage. They are a very real threat to animal and marine life, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths to whale, turtles, birds, and fish. They can lead to the suffocation deaths of not just animals but infants and young children as well.
Plastic bags also lead to pollution, and are the number one item found in landfills across the country. If you've every strolled down the street then you have surely noticed these urban tumbleweeds scattered throughout our city blocks. These bags are also hazardous in their death. Because they are non-biodegradable, they release toxic fumes into the environment when burned in land fills. That seems like a steep price to pay for convenience.
However, some lawmakers in India decided to actually put a price tag on that convenience, and a hefty one at that. In the small Indian province of Hirachai Pradesh, people caught with plastic bags are fined $2,000. Stella McCartney doesn't even charge that much for her bags, and they're designer!
So why don't we try to follow in Italy's New Year's Resolution, and cut down on our plastic bag usage in 2011, it's a great way to start off the new year and protect our planet.