We’ve heard of city-wide plastic bag bans, but a whole state? Now that takes chutzpah. As LiveScience reports, Hawaii is the first state in the whole country to ban the use of plastic bags, which means residents now have the minor inconvenience of bringing their own reusable bags, or using paper bags, at stores or restaurants. Plastic bags for bulk items such as meat, grains and produce will still be available.
It’s a small price to pay when you stack it up against the environmental cost of using plastic. When plastic bags aren’t taking up space underneath the kitchen sink, they’re discarded and end up surfacing in tree branches, polluting landfills and oceans, and being eaten by unsuspecting animals. Not only are plastic bags a menace to the planet, but their production also sucks up resources: It takes 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture the 102 billion plastic bags that Americans use annually, according to the United Nations.
As Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter, told the Huffington Post: “Being a marine state, perhaps, we are exposed more directly to the impacts of plastic pollution and the damage it does to our environment.” With Hawaii leading the charge against plastic bags, hopefully other states will soon take notice.