Title

Ban the Bag: Narragansett

Major

English

Advisor

Judith Swift

Advisor Department

Communication Studies

Advisor Department

Communication Studies

Date

5-2012

Keywords

environmental, policy, bag, ban, plastic, narragansett

Abstract

When I was younger, a close friend of mine often spoke of the importance of using reusable bags rather than the plastic bags grocery and retail stores provide to their consumers. At the time, I ignored her suggestions and, rather than choosing to educate myself on the subject, I remained in a state of ignorance. Years later, I studied abroad in France and was forced to assimilate into a country which had banned plastic bags in retail stores. In living in an environment which assumed that consumers would use reusable bags, I quickly learned of the benefits and rationale behind this environmentally and financially friendly option.

Today, it is estimated that global consumption of plastic bags has reached over 500 billion annually. Further, the United States contributes to 1/5 of the global usage. While at first glance these figures could appear to be little more than harmlessly shocking, the consequences of such numbers have been grave and monumental. As a result of widespread single-use plastic bag consumption, every year over 100,000 marine animal deaths occur, tons of carbon emissions are released into our atmosphere, approximately 80 million barrels of oil are utilized, and consumers spend an extra 4 billion dollars in raised prices to compensate retailers for the cost of this seemingly free plastic carrying device.

Despite all of this information being available to the public, consumers continue to use plastic bags, but more importantly, the majority of them continue to dispose of them directly after their initial use is fulfilled rather than opting to reuse them or to instead use reusable bags. While I feel content in my decision to discontinue my own personal consumption of single-use plastic bags, I feel strongly about the fact that the majority of people, if properly educated about this issue, would alter their behavior in the same way that I did. I have faith that the Narragansett community can make an impact much larger than I can on my own. Andrea Durant and I are working together to be the catalyst for this movement to ban plastic bags in the town of Narragansett.