They drift about on trade winds, marring Hawaii’s landscapes and posing threats to marine life.
Floating plastic bags can kill marine animals, such as green sea turtles (hono) that become entangled or ingest the buoyant trash, mistaking it for a jellyfish snack. Also, in addition to cluttering beautiful scenery in the Islands, non-biodegradable plastics and non-recyclable paper place avoidable burdens on landfills.
What to do? One by one, Hawaii’s counties have passed green-minded bills that ban businesses from distributing non-biodegradable plastic bags and non-recyclable paper bags. They’re also encouraging both residents and visitors to bring their own reusable shopping bags to stores and restaurants.
Bans are already in place on Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai and, starting in January 2014, on the Big Island, too. Pending Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle’s signature on a ban bill backed by the Honolulu City Council, Oahu could follow suit in July 2015. With an Oahu ban in effect, Hawaii could become the first state in the U.S. with a statewide crackdown on non-biodegradable plastic and non-recyclable paper trash.